Friday, November 05, 2004

Revisiting The 1980s Post Election Soul Searching

I have kept all letters to the editor, I wrote over the years. About 130 of them by now.

As I catalog them, it is fun to look back over what I said.

Now that the media is full of commentary about soul searching among Democrats, I remember similar "soul searching talk" after President Regan's victory in 1980. People were asking, "can we find an alternative to the nonsense of main stream culture?"

A letter that I wrote, in the Bellingham Herald, around 1984, caught my eye. It was during Mondale's run for President in 1984, not long after someone named Gary Hart lost the Democratic nomination. Mondale ran against Regan's second term. This was soon after Chrysler corporation was saved by a federal loan guarantee. Here is what I said:

Dear Editor
Dateline 1984

Cross - Purposes

Mondale's support for the Chrysler bail-out is one more example of the Democratic party's right hand not knowing what its left hand is doing. When the right hand bailed out Chrysler; it must have hoped that car sales would improve, so Chrysler could recover from its slump and pay back the loan.

While the right hand was betting on an auto sales recovery, the left hand was busy asking Americans to drive less. The left hand wants to reduce this country's consumption of oil and other nonrenewable resources. It does this by supporting public transit as an alternative to car travel, passing environmental restrictions which often get in the way of oil production and replacing parking spaces with pedestrian plazas.

I have never figured out how the Democrats thought car sales would improve while they were also taking steps to reduce this country's love affair with the automobile. Gary Hart's vote against the Chrysler loan seems to be more consistent with the ideals of protecting the environment and saving oil.

I guess, if we really wanted to save Chrysler; we should have supported Reagan. Since Reagan has taken office, there has been a dramatic increase in car sales. Reagan's policies; which have lifted many environmental restrictions and opened the way for more oil production, have given the auto industry the boost they needed most, stable gasoline prices. Also; the break-up of the OPEC oil cartel and the shift of international power back in favor of the United States has lowered our fuel prices.

Car sales are up and the Chrysler loan did succeed, but I still wonder if this was a good thing in the long run. Should we really go back to the days when fossil fuels and the automobile were king ?
I would have rather had someone come up with different ideas; such as supporting better rail service.

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