Back to the Future: Govern Like It’s 1976

“We should not look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought experience.” - George Washington, First President of the U.S.A.

There is a restless and nervous feeling lingering in the air across America. The hand wringing of Americans out of work, with no end in sight continues with the latest job report. They show that the economy created only 18,000 jobs in June. In fact, unemployment rose for the second month in a row, hitting 9.2 percent. If that wasn’t enough, many have been unemployed for an average of 36 weeks. Those able to find work do so at less than what they previously earned or are working at any job they grab onto for the moment. Some analysts place the real unemployment figure at about eighteen percent. Burdened with unstable high gas prices, war fatigue, an ambiguous foreign policy, a government deadlocked on a debt limit, and an overall feeling of impending doom leaves one remembering Jimmy Carter’s administration. Many of us ask, haven’t we been here before?

Commenting to “The New Yorker” in September 2010 on the similarities of the two administrations, former Vice President, during the Carter Administration, Walter Mondale claimed that voters {back then} were anxious and angry and they “just turned-against us as with Obama.” This led to President Carter losing confidence among constituents and unable to move the public as his re-election came to a screeching halt. Our country then was headed for a disaster that could not have been predicted when Carter came to be elected President. The common man President, who many saw as “one of us”, proved to be a man of many words and little action, in alleviating the pain of America. This is the feeling among many today.

Mr. Mondale’s voice of experience advises President Obama to ditch the teleprompters and connect with the American people. In his opinion it’s back to the future, which means that turning key legislation over to the Congress does not work even when you own the Congress. There is a disconnect between Obama and Americans about the everyday life and suffering happening at present. Without a strong leader, how can we begin to even think of solutions when the guidance is ambivalent, to say the least. The first key piece of legislation that set the stage of things to come was the bitter and divisive battle over Obamacare. Rather than focus on job creation, promoting innovation and entrepreneurship, the administration spent its political capital fighting a very expensive new law, Obamacare. The cost of this massive piece of legislation was a rude awakening of what we could not afford as Americans.

So far the first few years with Obama, have the executive stamp of Jimmy Carter, with the international fight over human rights, and an agenda that just overwhelmed Congress. In his own words found in “The White House Diaries”, President Carter described his policy as, “an array of controversial and politically costly requests." If we cannot afford such an expensive overhaul of our medical care, how then can we afford the other revamps of our failing programs?

Michael Wolff, a contributor to Vanity Fair, has described the current President as “the great earnest bore at the dinner party,….. He's cold; he's prickly; he's uncomfortable; he's not funny; and he's getting awfully tedious. He thinks it's all about him.” This could easily be said of Mr. Carter who lacked the gravitas to lead and inspire his cabinet and the nation. The most recent motivational words from our professor in chief were “peeling the band aid and eating our peas” which had a direct affect on the stock market as it hung in limbo with uncertainty. Can things get worse? If our leader cannot make sense of our suffering, how then can he lead us out of the dark?

Spending addicts are driving this economic bus south and it will hit rock bottom. As voters, we are too nervous to move into action because we fear that a wrong move will checkmate us into a disaster that we have never before experienced. However, if we cannot make sense of our President’s words, perhaps it is time to find a leader who can speak our language. This is the time to test that water for a leader who can motivate, take on a crisis, and grow an economy. Jimmy Carter was replaced by a great leader, a Republican who understood the people, Ronald Reagan. President Obama sold “change” as his slogan to get elected in 2008. I feel that it is time for that change again, don’t you think?


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