Ever since the Watergate scandal inexplicably captivated my teenaged self, my favorite sport to follow— even to the point of dabbling in it— has been electoral politics.
As with any rabid fan, I got pulled in more and more until I was persuaded a few years back to run for a seat on my town council.
I was elected to serve a two-year term and then re-elected, but increasing constraints on my personal time precluded seeking a third term.
My time spent being “the man in the arena,” as Teddy Roosevelt put it, was brief.
Although mine was an unpaid elected office, I was rewarded for my efforts by experiencing first-hand that, as Tip O’Neill once insisted, “All politics are local.”
Local as in right down to where a stop sign should be placed. Or not be placed.
Indeed, the biggest lesson drilled into me— by constituents who literally buttonholed me or phoned me or flooded me with emails-- was the squeaky wheel does get the grease. And the squeakiest one of all may well get all the grease.
When it was time for our 50-member Representative Town Council to debate and then vote on a contentious issue, such as school funding or municipal employment contracts, it was the sworn duty of all of us to argue for or against any measure based on the views expressed to us by the people we represented in our given voting district.
The upshot? It was the thinking of the vocal minority— those who bothered, often passionately, to express their views directly to their representatives-- that determined the outcome of every issue up for a vote.
And that held true no matter whether a Democrat or a Republican wielded the gavel. I know that because first one party and then the other held the majority in my two terms.
And so it goes, too, up on Capitol Hill. Except there, of course, there is the added pressure applied by deep-pocketed lobbyists.
But dense as they may sometimes appear, Members of Congress know damn well who put them into office and who can kick them out.
Whether they all got to the polls for the 2014 mid-term election or not, anyone eligible to vote has the right to be heard by their Senators and Representatives. And to hold them to their campaign promises throughout their time in office.
It’s worth considering that Congressmen are thoroughly clued into which industry associations and other organized interest groups want them to vote for or against what.
What they don’t know if you don’t tell them yourself, is what your views are and how you expect them to be addressed by Congress.
Politicians keep an unblinking eye locked on their next election. To get them to work for you, you have no choice but to make it known that the vote you’ll cast a few years from now must be earned now.
To be sure, from the moment the incoming 114th Congress is called into session right through the next two years, every single message that each voter with a stake in trucking individually sends to his or her Senators and Representatives will power up the industry’s traction on such crucial issues as revitalizing transportation infrastructure and stemming the flood of burdensome regulations.
It’s been said the Quakers first urged that individuals “speak truth to power.”
If you’re in trucking, there’s no better time than now to do just that.
After all, to paraphrase President Obama, it’s your skin in this game.