by Seth Maiman
AGSC Director, Public Affairs
As 2020 nears its conclusion (not soon enough for many of us), one of its legacies might be the increase in political and civic activity throughout the nation. Voter turnout in the 2020 Presidential election has been estimated at 67 percent, the highest in an American election in 120 years. No matter which side of any political question you might be on, you will always have an interest in having your voice heard by election officials and government leaders who make decisions affecting your life and livelihood.
All of us can and should be political actors of some sort. Your interest may be in national security or health care or in new playground equipment in the park near your house or a stoplight on a nearby thoroughfare. No matter what the issue, exercising your political voice is not as daunting as it might seem.
Your uncle does not have to be a State Senator for you to be “connected”. You live in a community, you might have a family, you might own property, you own a local business or have a job in a local business, and you probably have memberships, formal or informal, in social, athletic, religious, political or other organizations that can lend credibility to your arguments and multiply your voice.
In contacting government officials to offer your opinion there are a few simple steps in your “political assessment” that will help you to be effective:
- Process – A little research will help target your efforts. What level of government – federal, state or local – is responsible for deciding the issue you care about and what is the process for making that decision? Is it up to the President or Congress, the Mayor or the Council? When is the deadline or the vote on your issue?
- Message – What are the best two or three arguments for your position? State your case succinctly. Relate your argument to your personal experience. Are you making the argument because you live in that neighborhood or because your kids go to that school or because you work in the auto services industry? Explain why you care enough to make your voice heard and why your opinion on the topic is credible.
- Communication – What is the best and easiest way for you to communicate with these decision-makers? You can write an email or letter. Perhaps you can schedule an in-person meeting (or Zoom in these COVID times) or get a few minutes of attention at a forum or other gathering. Maybe you can even testify at a hearing. Make a plan based on your own time and level of interest.
- Representation – Are there others who agree with you that can help you expand your voice? Can you enlist individuals or groups in your effort or perhaps even form a new group? Think how you can best organize for maximum effect.
Working in the auto glass services industry gives you an interest in any laws or regulations that affect your work and your business. You want to be sure that any government regulation allows your business an opportunity to thrive and helps ensure that other auto glass service providers follow similar safety protocols that you do.
The Auto Glass Safety Council has made a commitment to provide information to assist you in these efforts as they relate to the auto glass industry and safety. You may have noticed that in recent years legislative alerts are emailed to members regarding state legislation and they are posted on www.agsc.org. In certain circumstances, the AGSC will take an advocacy position on legislation in accordance with its mission to make every auto glass repair and replacement safer by developing and maintaining safety standards, educating and accrediting the industry and promoting awareness of the AGRSS and ROLAGS standards.
AGSC has expanded its social media presence to communicate with a broader number of stakeholders in the auto glass and safety communities more fully and quickly. Follow us on Twitter “@autoglasssafety”, on Facebook and LinkedIn.
Additionally, AGSC is planning a “Having Your Voice Heard” program for Auto Glass Week in June to provide some useful tools for individuals interested in amplifying their voices to government officials. In the meantime, I will be in the AGSC booth during the virtual Auto Glass Week preview day on the afternoon of January 12 and will be happy to discuss political involvement and citizen activism with you. Hope to hear from you then.