I’m not sure if everyone reading this article will agree with me, but hasn’t 2019 seemed like a long year? 

While it is still 365 days long, it has seemed much longer than that. At times, it has been a frustrating year. At times, it has been an exhausting year. And yet, at times, it has been an exciting year full of promise of better times ahead. To me, our political climate has never been more divergent with everyone seeming to be at one extreme or the other. Whatever happened to the middle ground where things got done? It doesn’t seem like that long ago when Ronald Reagan and House Speaker Tip O’Neill would have a cocktail together in the White House telling jokes and getting along. They didn’t totally agree with each other, but they came to compromise for the good of the country. Even Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich gave us the last balanced budget our nation has experienced. Today, the noise coming out of Washington is deafening, and I think most in our industry would agree it’s both frustrating and exhausting. Unfortunately, I don’t think it will get any better next year as the election draws closer.

As business leaders, it is vital that we engage and let our voices and positions be heard. It’s the business owner that can cut through all the noise and divisiveness and put forth proposals that make sense and that will work. After all, who better to argue for the interests of business than us? While 2019 has been a memorable year for ASA as we have been celebrating our 50 years as a national trade association, 2020 is going to challenge us like no other year in our history. 

As political campaigns challenge the very nature of our nation, it will be important that we become the voice of reason and advocate for a system that has built this nation and provided opportunity for those who seek a better life. For more than 10 years, we have worked hard to build the strength and capability of ASA to stand side by side with members in order to protect our industry and our ability to serve our customers, provide great careers and livelihoods for our employees and their families, and for a future that is unencumbered from the road blocks that an out-of-control government will present. 

Yes, the noise from next year’s national election will get louder and the race to the political extremes will accelerate, but we can’t lose hope even when things seem to get crazy, because we’ve been through this before. While many of those younger members of our industry have never seen such animosity in their lives, those of us who lived through the late 60s and early 70s know that we have seen this crazy stuff before. It’s uncanny that ASA was formed in 1969 at the height of political unrest and divide throughout our nation. It almost seems fitting that today, 50 years later, we are once again poised to help provide a voice for stability. 

Fifty years ago, our industry was diverse, with many voices. Today, our members are larger, more unified and stronger, creating a formidable force for change. We have developed strong partnerships with many organizations in our industry and those partnerships are being leveraged to help us like never before. 

But in the end, it takes everyone in our industry to jump in and help. Whether you are a member of ASA or not, I urge you to visit the ASA website at www.asa.net and click on the “Advocacy” button and then the “Take Action” button. There, you will find several active efforts we are engaged in on behalf of the industry. Click on the issue that you are most interested in and follow the easy instructions to let your congressional representatives know how you feel. 

Our industry is 200,000 strong and if everyone steps up to help, 2020 can be an exciting year for all of us.