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American elections, dealer responsibility

September 26, 2014
By Larry Kull, Chairman of the American International Automobile Dealers Association
Members of 113th Congress raced out of Washington, D.C., this month by planes, trains, and automobiles, leaving nothing in their wake but a proverbial cloud of dust. 
The members were all headed home, back to their districts for a final flurry of campaigning ahead of the midterm elections, just five short weeks away. They won’t return to D.C. again until after Nov. 4, after all the votes are counted.
As of today, the 113th Congress has enacted just 163 pieces of legislation — putting it on track to be the least productive in history. And that’s not likely to change in the next few weeks. 
Despite a great deal of unfinished business, including an immigration crisis, the U.S. campaign against ISIS, trade promotion authority, and the small matter of the U.S. budget, Congress has determined that its energy is best spent at home, drumming up votes.
What Congress doesn’t seem to get is that Americans don’t want to be glad-handed at the local pumpkin patch, or gifted empty promises at the VFW hall. We want real, substantial legislation that promotes our national security and economic well-being. We want serious men and women to tackle serious issues. We want Congress to do better.
We may be disappointed in Congress’ inaction, but as a country we should also take a hard look at our own actions. In the last midterm election, just 42 percent of eligible Americans voted. 
If Americans don’t participate in the electoral process from start to finish, if we don’t follow the news and educate ourselves on how our members vote, if we can’t even be bothered to vote ourselves, then how can we expect to see progress in Washington, D.C.?
As business leaders, dealers have a particular responsibility to our employees and our customers to get engaged with the political process. Unaddressed issues in Washington, D.C., can lead to big problems at home – like higher taxes, a weaker economy, and burdensome regulations on small businesses.
It’s not enough to show up to the voting booth every other year; we have to get involved on the local level and in the nominating process, we have to donate to the PACs and candidates who represent our interests, and we have to demand a stronger performance from Congress, just as we would from any other employee.
Remember, if we don’t find a way to work with Congress, we’ll have a Congress that doesn’t work for us.