It's almost a year until the U.S. presidential election. That means Americans have about ten more months of candidates' speeches, debates, accusations (true and not-so-true) and general campaigning unpleasantness still ahead. During the course of this free and free-for-all exchange, citizens are expected to sift through this information and come to a conclusion about who is best qualified to lead the country.
With blogs and logs, social networks and cable news, broadcast and narrowcast and radio and print, we are all going to have our hands full. So, here's an idea for your consideration: Why don't we show the country how well an election can be run by having one of our own? Why don't we elect a president of trucking and then create a “How to Campaign Handbook” to share with U.S. presidential candidates and their election committees?
Sure, we have presidents galore already at industry organizations, fleets and suppliers, but how about one elected person to represent all of trucking? If we hurry, we could have our election all wrapped up and the Campaign Handbook produced and ready for distribution by early summer — JIT as it were.
This may seem like a strange idea, but bear with me. Trucking has plenty to bring to the election process:
Candidate qualification: No need to hire researchers to dig up dirt about the other candidates in this industry. Instead, trucking can simply have each candidate go through a routine background check for truck drivers. Add hazmat and Dept. of Defense certifications for good measure, and the job is handled.
Disclosures: Are you kidding? With SafeStat and compliance audits, not to mention the watchful oversight of insurance companies, DOT inspectors, the EPA and interested others, what is left to disclose?
Campaigning: Piece of cake. Trucks and trailers are perfect rolling billboards for candidates; no need for unsightly signage along every street. And those visits to neighborhood restaurants and truck stops that have become so popular among candidates ? Trucking people already eat there every day.
While trucking has a campaign-ready architecture already in place, it's the nature of our industry candidates that could really be a beacon to those other candidates running for office. As a general rule, it seems fair to say people in this business are known for:
Candor: the art of plain speaking did not die with Harry Truman; it just sought sanctuary in trucking, where it prospers to this day.
Honesty: Where else does a handshake still mean so much?
Responsibility, fiscal and otherwise: Carefully shepherding assets of every sort, from drivers to equipment to cargo, is at the very heart of trucking. And figuring out how to do more with less is the national industry pastime.
Fairness: Trucking has been obsessed with the need for an “even playing field” ever since deregulation. EOBR's, for instance, are fine if everybody has to use them. We “get” the concept of fairness.
Diplomacy: While diplomacy may be on its knees in international circles, here in trucking tough negotiating is all in a day's work.
This industry is clearly the place to look for the kind of structure and people who could bring real solutions-focused civil discourse to the process of political campaigning. In fact, now that I think about it, why bother with producing that handbook? Would somebody out there be willing to run for U.S. president just this once to show how well it can be done?