Riding Shifting Tides

By Colby Martin


It's times like these you learn to live again

It's times like these you give and give again

It's times like these you learn to love again

It's times like these time and time again

— Dave Grohl


Ready to close the book on an intense 2020? The year's mounting challenges were capped by a photo finish U.S. election. A lack of in-person entertainment options offered little reprieve—particularly the many automotive-based gatherings our community cherishes. The upcoming New Year marks for many an optimistic return to some form of life as we once knew it.

Not surprisingly, Election Day took a turn toward the unfamiliar in many ways. The voting process itself was adapted to make each citizen's civic duty within reach as much as possible. Methods included new means of casting mail-in and absentee ballots as well as early voting schedules. Processing and counting ballots therefore took longer in several regions and left some races uncalled far longer than in previous cycles. As the dust settles, a record-high turnout of Americans cast ballots—more than 148 million individuals.

The 2020 election was as heated and unpredictable as ever—revealing surprising outcomes. At the time of publication, the complete political landscape remains to be determined. Former Vice President Joe Biden became President-elect after securing important victories in a few key states. A so-called "blue wave" of wins by the Democratic Party's candidates were popularly predicted to follow in the wake. The party instead saw their majority of seats in the U.S. House reduce in size. Republicans appear to be keeping control of the U.S. Senate for the moment. However, major runoff elections are taking place in Georgia that may shape the body's control in January.

Ultimately, the significant shift in political power expected by many insiders has not happened. There will likely be a divided Federal government in the coming year. Compromise will be the order of the day to avoid the gridlock our nation has seen in recent years. Such circumstances may potentially create welcome openings for our hobby. The SEMA Action Network (SAN) will continue seeking opportunities to make in-roads for enthusiasts with Congress. After all, vehicle-related matters are often easy to support—tending not to fall along traditional party lines or platforms.

While the top of the ballot has dominated the national spotlight, the results further down the ticket hit closer to home. The importance of state-level election outcomes cannot be overstated…especially in 2020, where 44 states held legislative elections. The expected "blue wave" once again failed to reach shore in legislatures across the country. In the coming legislative session, state houses and local governments are likely to be tied up with more pressing concerns than vehicle-related changes. Potentially shortened sessions focused on critical issues may push usual business to the following year, for better and for worse. Beyond, results of the U.S. Census counted in 2020—especially subsequent redistricting that will be drawn up the following year—could play a significant role in how elected officials prioritize matters over the next decade.

Despite changing currents, making a lasting impact on public policy is still within reach. Automobiles are a great equalizer no matter one's own politics. By seeking constructive relationships in government, you'll be on your way to assembling a personal toolbox of political connections. If you have not already done so, form your plans to start making local introductions to those representing you and your neighbors. Locate your elected officials on the SAN website under the "Legislators" tab. Welcome fresh faces to elected office and congratulate existing officials. Brush up on your networking prowess with the SAN's new digital lobbying guide at semaSAN.com/lobby. This fresh resource offers detailed tips for making positive impressions with lawmakers—more details are available elsewhere in the current newsletter. In fact, the latest additions to the roster of hobby-friendly legislators comprising the SEMA-supported State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus appear in this edition also. Find out if your lawmakers are among the hundreds listed at semaSAN.com/statecaucus.

If anything is certain, together we will continue to fight the good fight for today's automotive culture was well as tomorrow's. As we gear up for 2021, may you and your families enjoy a happy and healthy holiday season!