Mike Murphy

National presidential elections are kind of fun. The first campaign I can barely remember was that of John F. Kennedy. Since then, more than 100 prospective candidates for the land’s highest office have kissed babies, kissed butts, and even kissed an intern or two. Oh, sorry, that last instance wasn’t a candidate, was it?

The field usually narrows about this time of year. By the time this missive hits the page, the remaining primary elections and caucuses may be little more than window dressing for the remaining donkey and elephant waiting for the big one on Nov. 4.

Before I could vote, I recall walking door-to-door for my father’s first political campaign, spray-painting stenciled signs on the garage floor, and hammering yard signs. Those were exciting times for a young boy. I felt as though I was really part of the political process - a process that has since fallen on hard times because so many people feel apathetic toward such civic responsibilities.

Until now.

Regardless of your political inclinations, there is something in the air this political season - and not simply the mildly odiferous stench of donkey and elephant breath as hollow promises are spewed into the air. The 2008 election year is quite different than in the recent past, as this is the first time since the 1928 election in which there is neither an incumbent president nor an incumbent vice president running for their party’s nomination in the presidential election.

The 1952 election was the last time neither the incumbent president nor incumbent vice president ran in the general election, after President Harry S. Truman bowed out following his loss in the New Hampshire primary.

Add to this nostalgic novelty the fact that there is an “Obama phenomenon” according to political pundits, and one might surmise that more previously apathetic people will be voting for a presidential candidate than in any election in recent memory.


It is certainly good news to see that the sometimes sleepy American political process can be raised up from its lethargy.

Charlie McCrudden, director of government relations for the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) and I were talking the other day about snowy northeastern Ohio and the recent economic stimulus package. We agree that we’re not as fond of snow as when we were children, and that the average $1,200 checks that will be arriving in mailboxes in the merry, merry month of May might well go toward fixing up some existing HVAC systems or even toward the purchase of new ones. (I didn’t have the heart to tell Charlie, but my check might well go toward stimulating the Mexican economy as I sip Coronas on a sandy beach.)

I was even more encouraged about our political process as McCrudden revealed that large numbers of ACCA members rally to aid the association’s lobbyist efforts on Capitol Hill. He sends out an occasional call-to-action to members when a flurry of e-mails or phone calls is needed to influence key votes on proposed legislation.

I fully expected that the response would be about 20 to 30 people on any given issue. Not so. McCrudden said, “We get nearly 300 responses on every issue. My Blackberry buzzes like crazy; I have to turn it off just to concentrate on those days.”

As well, other contractor associations, such as Mechanical Contractors Association of America, Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors - National Association, Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association, and others have powerful lobbyist efforts. I simply had no idea that this industry had such strong involvement in the political process at the grass-roots level.

Approximately 300 regular e-mails to a group of legislators can have an impact. It may not sound like much to some, but it works on the Hill. Imagine if it were double that number? Or triple?

A tip of the hat to all who answer those calls to action. Thank you for taking an active roll in the political process, especially as it applies directly to the future of this industry.

Now, if we could only find a way to get that donkey and elephant to work on the halitosis.

Publication date:03/10/2008