Jim McFarland
October 27, 2010

The 2010 elections are here, and at no time in recent history has Washington been so divided. Less than two years ago, then-Senator Barack Obama led a movement united by the desire for change. Voters wanted a new era of bipartisan cooperation, openness and an abandonment of "politics as usual."

The realities of backroom politics quickly eroded campaign ideals. Whether President Obama and the Democratic leadership failed to deliver or his opponents refused the invitation, the battle lines were fortified and partisan rancor is now stronger than ever.

It's easy to identify key events that hastened the downfall. We must also acknowledge that circumstances at the beginning of 2009 were dire. The world economy wavered and consumers and businesses alike were gripped in fear. Early decisions made by the Obama Administration and Congress helped bring stability to the markets but also left a sour taste for many. Did we bailout the right people? Did we mortgage our future to jump-start the economy? Will skyrocketing deficits lead to stagflation, inflation or other types of economic grief?

Health care reform underscored the divisions. Early on there was a "debate" on how to address the twin issues of skyrocketing premiums and the millions of Americans without health care insurance. But by last summer, it had devolved into issue ads and angry town-hall gatherings.

We are again at an election crossroads in which many voters are seeking "change." That's what this story is about-an opportunity to consider how actions being taken by federal and state lawmakers impact you, the auto enthusiast. The need for the enthusiast community to stay informed and become involved is greater than ever. From emissions to auto equipment standards, the government is making decisions about your current and future car.

This topic is not limited to Washington. While the federal government issues national rules dictating vehicle safety and emissions equipment, most other issues are handled at the state and local levels. From titling and registration to inspection and maintenance, your car is subject to decisions made by state and local officials.

The future of our hobby depends on you. The ballot box is one venue for making your views known. We also urge you to work collectively with your fellow enthusiasts. How? Join the SEMA Action Network. The SAN is a partnership between enthusiasts, car clubs and members of the specialty auto parts industry in the U.S. and Canada who have pledged to join forces in support of legislative solutions for the auto hobby. It's free to join and the SAN keeps you informed about pending legislation and regulations-both good and bad-that will impact your state or the entire country. It also provides you with action alerts, speaking points, and lawmaker contact information if you want to support or oppose a bill.

Join now at www.semasan.com.