I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it’s almost impossible to talk about any significant subject these days without the discussion ending up in a partisan conversation. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen it quite like this where there is such a high level of divisiveness that springs up around most discussions. We certainly have seen that in conversations that HFA’s Government Relations Action Team (GRAT) has had over the last number of months. Sometimes it starts innocently enough when we’re just merely looking at what party has the most influence on a particular issue. All too often, however, it just naturally devolves into us versus them, Republican versus Democrat, conservative versus liberal. The dividing lines are apparent. But my question is, how does that truly move forward the issues that are critical to the home furnishings industry? How does immediately splitting into factions help all of the retailers who are working to survive and grow?
Candidly, it’s nearly impossible to be apolitical about anything. It’s hard because we each have filters that we strain our views through, lenses that we see through. However, I have to stop myself when that happens to me or see it happening to those around me because I believe we have to stay focused on the issues that truly matter to our industry.
The political piece of this needs to be strictly used for navigating. How do we approach certain subjects with congressional members from either side of the aisle? In my view, we don’t need the support of just one party but both. As Washington’s landscape changes from election to election, we don’t have time to hit the restart button and start from scratch. For example, our push for furniture retail’s essential status is an everyday need and message, not just one that we tweak and repackage every two years based on who is in power. There needs to be a steady drumbeat coming from the Home Furnishings Association and our members; an unwavering focus on the issues that matter most so that those who have influence hear us.
This doesn’t mean we’re trying to create a great deal of noise. Quite the contrary. If anything, what we say and share needs to be sharp, clean, and concise. What we put forward needs to tell the story of how the home furnishings industry is part of the backbone of this economy today and tomorrow, how home is essential, and your success is the country’s success.
No matter if the audience is wrapped in blue or red, one collective voice is more potent than many individual ones, especially when it drives a steady drumbeat.