The fever pitch of political rhetoric has finally simmered down as we welcome the 44th president of the United States into office. I’m not here to talk presidential politics — as far as this column goes, I don’t give a hoot if you were a member of the McCain camp or the Obama movement. What I do care about is the momentum that both of the campaigns inspired around the idea of change.
So many of us play armchair quarterback when it comes to politics that affect us. Taxes are high; it’s Washington’s fault. My local recreation area is banning motorized vehicles; there’s nothing I can do, and my dealership is gonna take a major hit in off-road sales. The sportbike-riding parts-counter-kid was thrown into intensive care by a soccer mom who crossed the centerline in her Escalade while gabbing on her iPhone, and the insurance giant gets away with excluding the victim’s medical treatment because he engaged in the "risky" behavior of riding a motorcycle.
These situations stink, but don’t think you can’t do anything about them. From a grassroots local level all the way to the capitol steps in Washington, ordinary people can make a notable difference.
I learned this firsthand last spring when I attended the AMA’s Ride Into Political Action in Washington D.C., where a handful of motorcyclists from across the country gathered to learn how we could influence lawmakers on the issues that impact riders. The ABATE crew was there in full force to fight helmet laws, and off-road riders were there to protect the use of public lands. Whatever the cause, the AMA’s crack team of lobbyists led by VP of government relations, Ed Moreland, helped riders learn to craft and deliver their message to lawmakers so that they get taken seriously. The weekend culminated in visits to our representatives’ offices on Monday morning, and as I sat in on several of these encounters, I really felt that, as motorcyclists, our views were heard.
I was a little stunned that there wasn’t one dealer in the crowd. While the helmet issue might be a bit of a sticky wicket you want to avoid as a business owner, so many of the other issues core to the AMA’s mission directly affect not only your client base, but your business as well — land rights, sound regulations, insurance standards, rider education, emissions standards — one if not all of these issues is sure to hit home with you.
This year’s Ride Into Political Action is scheduled for February 21-24 in Washington D.C., and you can still register for this $99 seminar online at www.amadirectlink.com or by calling Sharon Smolinka at (614) 856-1900, ext. 1252. Even if your travel schedule is maxed out with tradeshows next month, the AMA’s political link at www.amadirectlink.com provides a wealth of information on national and state rights, issues and pending legislation as well as tips on how to get involved.
Ok, I’m just about done waxing political, but before I head back to packing my bags for the V-Twin Expo, I challenge you to make a resolution for change in 2009. Will you become your customer’s hero by playing a key role in securing motorcycle parking in your city center, or by leading the charge to protect the off-road lands that are core to your customer’s passion and your bottom line? Maybe you’ll just raise awareness by kicking in a dollar for every $50 sold towards the AMA’s fund-matching goal for a national motorcycle crash study. Whatever you decide to do, or if you’re already campaigning for your rights, let me know the results at [email protected]. And if you choose to do nothing, zip it when things don’t go your way!