Lawmakers can’t hear our voices if we don’t speak up

I have been to Washington, D.C. twice to discuss furniture industry issues on behalf of HFA and our members. It’s a trip HFA makes annually to meet face-to-face with our lawmakers and various government agencies to make sure our voices are heard as people who make a living in the furniture business. This year, due to the pandemic, we conducted these meetings virtually thanks to HFA and their extraordinary Washington lobbyist, Chris Andresen.

Each time, I come away from these meetings with a painful reminder that the system is not functioning as intended. But the real source of the problem is not what you might expect. The most dysfunctional component of our political system is actually… you and me.

WE THE PEOPLE have a powerful tool that can positively alter how our elected officials represent us, yet most of us have never used it. No, it’s not our vote (That’s the nuclear option). It’s our communication. It’s the same thing we do with others in life when we need them to behave differently. We explain our concern and ask for a change.

The men and women we have elected have various skills and education, but rarely have they studied or experienced the furniture industry’s nuances. So then, isn’t it unreasonable to expect these individuals to be experts on our supply chain needs, labor concerns, and tariff consequences – all topics that impact your bottom line – unless someone has communicated with them? Or better yet, lots of someones so they can comprehend the scope of the issues.

I am proud that our association takes our voices to Capitol Hill. It is a huge yet somewhat underappreciated benefit to your membership. Yet nothing is as effective as telling your senator or congressperson your personal story and how you are negatively impacted by various legislation. It puts a face and a name to the issue. It makes our voices heard and helps build critical mass.

I believe most of our elected officials hunger for that information and genuinely want to make life better on Main Street. You will see it in their eyes and hear it in the questions they ask. And while you have their attention, tell them you expect less political posturing and more tangible results.

Are you part of the problem? When was the last time you paid a visit to your senator or congressperson? When did you last send a letter or an email, or make a phone call to their staff? You have the ability, perhaps even the responsibility, to reach out and communicate. It’s easy to do, but if you need help getting started, contact HFA – they’ll be happy to help you become part of the solution.

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