The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States came as a surprise to many. In the December issue of the magazine, we try to bring you insight into what the Trump administration may mean for trucking and for the economy. But in this column, I want to talk about a couple of things that became evident surrounding the campaign that concern me. And I believe they should concern you, too, no matter who you voted for.
The first is that many people apparently voted based on false, misleading, or biased information. Websites on both the left and the right of the political spectrum presented information that was biased, taken out of context, or outright fake. Fake news abounded, especially on Facebook.
As a journalist, and as a citizen, this concerns me. Democracy depends on an informed electorate.
At HDT, we try to bring you information and insight that will help you run your business more successfully. We don’t rely on a single source to do that, and neither should you. We talk to suppliers. We talk to associations. We talk to fleets. We talk to consultants. We talk to researchers. We read other publications, both inside and out of trucking. We report first-person observations. All in an effort to help you be informed and make better decisions.
I encourage you, whether you’re making decisions about your business or presidents or anything else in your life, to do the same. To do your own research. To rely on more than what pops up in your Facebook feed or on Twitter or your favorite TV or radio news/talk channel. To be skeptical and be your own fact-checker. To listen to the opinions of people whose viewpoints differ from your own.
Which brings me to my other concern: Diversity.
If you look around the room at nearly any trucking industry gathering, you will see a crowd that is almost overwhelmingly white, and almost overwhelmingly male.
Yet the demographics of our country are changing, and our industry needs to change with it. According to the Pew Research Center, by 2055, the U.S. will not have a single racial or ethnic majority. Women’s role in the labor force and leadership positions has grown dramatically. And Millennials (young adults born after 1980) have likely surpassed Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) as the largest U.S. generation.
Trucking has much discussed in recent years the need to reach out to minorities, to women, to younger people, to fill seats not only behind the wheel but also behind the desk, in the shop, in the boardroom — to bring in new talent to run the next generation of trucking companies.
In fact, trucking faces a similar challenge as the Republican Party. In a Politico.com article shortly after the election, Whit Ayres, a veteran GOP pollster, said while Trump squeezed out a victory by appealing primarily to white voters, “counting on winning the Electoral College while losing the popular vote is not a strategy for long-term success in the new America.”
Politico notes that research by the College Republican National Committee after Mitt Romney’s defeat in 2012 found that “undecided young voters associated the party, at the time, with words like ‘closed-minded, racist, rigid, old-fashioned.’”
Trump’s campaign did little to convince young voters, minorities, or women otherwise.
Many in trucking supported Trump for president because they are ready for a break from crushing regulations that seem to come faster and faster. I believe that most of those who voted for Trump did so despite a campaign that denigrated women and minorities, not because of it.
But when women, minorities and young people look at an industry that is so overwhelmingly male, so overwhelmingly white, some of the very talent we need may not feel trucking welcomes them.
So, I urge you to take extra care to make sure that your company and this industry are welcoming to all. To make sure a desire to elect a more business-friendly administration that will ease the regulatory burden isn’t seen as prejudice, sexism, bigotry and intolerance.