By John Latta
I’d like to see more truckers elected to represent the people.
Our Founding Fathers liked the idea that the ordinary man would help guide his country by taking on the job of serving in our elected assemblies and legislatures. It would be a public role that men from all sorts of backgrounds did for a time, their duty as it were, and then went back to their regular life, letting someone else take their turn.
Today being elected is a profession you buy into rather than get called into. It has its own corporate ladder that ambitious people can jump on and climb. Lawyers outnumber any other profession among politicians, so if you want a career in politics the obvious choice is to go to law school. Graduate, then follow a well beaten path. Maybe find work helping popular causes, pick a party, be seen, champion an underdog here or there, marry cleverly, schmooze the news media, and eventually the machinery of our democracy and a lot of money will carry you successfully before the voters.
Not all politicians are this person. But some, far too many, are. And when you are one of them, it is inevitable that your primary aim is to be elected and your secondary aim is to elected again and maybe your No. 3 goal (or secretly No.1) is to rise and rise and rise. You will set out to genuinely make a difference, and to some degree succeed, but with those big three goals up front you will have to compromise here and there. That is what we call horse trading (not the same thing as corruption), and we see very little wrong with it because it keeps the machine oiled and the wheels running.
But, Congressman Lawyer, are you the best man, or woman, for the job or just the one most able to win? Why shouldn’t a professional trucker be among our elected lawmakers?
We have come to expect candidates with all the gloss, ability with words and photogenic power of successful lawyers. We consider today’s working man trying to do the duty foreseen by our forefathers as quaintly courageous but hopelessly out of his depth and underqualified.
A truck driver doesn’t have to be as intellectually spectacular as a successful lawyer. This is not about years of college and law school. It’s about representing people. The best qualification is that you are a fellow American, hard working, passionate and idealistic about your country, honest, totally dedicated to doing the best for your fellow citizens, loaded with common sense, possessor of a heart as big as a rock, willing to learn and unwilling to be bought and paid for.
Citizens, especially those who work hard for a living, need men and women who also work hard to be part of the bodies that decide their future. A good trucker will be able to understand the problems of a lot of real people with his gut and from his own experience. Right now most of our elected representatives deduce that from polls, nameless people on phones talking to random telephone numbers. Too many of our elected representatives “feel” with a sort of abstractness, a guess, a photo-op-inspired sympathy.
Maybe you’d have some trouble with one or two concepts and need help figuring out how some numbers work. But so do some career politicians. You will have your strengths, and they will have theirs.
A dose of common sense and plain speaking from someone who works hard for a living in a demanding profession would be a tonic. It might just expose as a myth the idea that our elected representatives need to come from the so-called elite. Someone who sits in elected office and looks at America through the eyes of a top-notch professional long-haul driver will see things differently than a successful lawyer. He will feel differently and his hands and his heart will have learned about America differently. But he is eminently qualified to represent his fellow Americans. Together the driver and the lawyer could make a heck of a team.