With only three business days to go before the Rally, no Democrats have agreed to be seen with us yet. This is both disappointing and surprising - as our message is not and never has been "anti-safety". No, in fact we have long advocated for strong safety. Our disagreement is the means for achieving strong safety. We insist that quantifiable risk of injury must be used to determine what constitutes a safety issue, not arbitrary standards that often are irrelevant to safety and lead to inefficient misallocation of resources. In addition, we have cried out against the negative economic incentives in the law - these rules will devastate our businesses, and as anyone in the "kids" business can tell, it hurts to know that families and schools won't be able to get our products now even though the products are safe. The Democrats publicly reply in Stepford Wives fashion, repeating the mantra that the law is fine as is, and it is the fault of the CPSC that "misinformation" has not been corrected or clarified. Ironically, the Republicans are quick to concede that the bill contains errors and misjudgments, so apparently the Democrats' infallability argument does not apply to everyone who supported the CPSIA in 2008!
I still find it amazing that safety has morphed into a partisan issue in America, where Democrats and Republicans are on opposite sides of "safety", each claiming the higher ground. In this case, Democrats are seemingly aligned behind arbitrary standards divorced from any assessment of risk of injury. They are also gleeful over heavy penalties and high legal risk, not to mention jackpot justice with independent State Attorney General enforcement of Federal law. On the other side, Republicans seem to be open to a risk-assessment legislative model and retain an open mind about the legitimate concerns of industry over the (many) negative incentives in this law.
The support our movement has enjoyed has largely been a Republican affair. There are ten Senators sponsoring bills to amend the CPSIA (one Democrat) and 32 Representatives sponsoring bills (five Democrats), with a total of ten bills pending. None of the Democrats sponsoring bills have agreed to attend the Rally, incredibly. These six members of Congress have made an important contribution by standing up for change, but their reluctance to be seen at the Rally is disturbing. Where are you, Democrats?
Other members of Congress are working back channels for change. One such person is Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). Ms. Klobuchar wrote a detailed letter to Nancy Nord of the CPSC on January 26 outlining many of the familiar (important) flaws in the law. Her state has a high population of ATV users and also is the home of some important companies making products affected by the CPSIA. I happen to know Senator Klobuchar from student days and can attest to her character and intellect. Now we just need her to come to our Rally to learn more about how to fix this broken law.
The Rally will be a historic event, with or without Democrats. The open forum, Internet features, compelling content and public participation will set an example of how democracy is supposed to work. As the world watches our streaming video and audio feeds, poses interactive questions, tweets back and forth to let everyone far and wide know what's happening on the moment, we will be making legislative history. And history will record that no Democrats were there to support this true exercise of democracy in its highest form. Is that how you want to be remembered, Dems?
We'll leave the door open, just in case you change your mind.