John McCain talks a lot these days about "ending American dependence on foreign sources of oil."
I'm not buying any of it, and I'll tell you why.
1984 was the first presidential election I was old enough to vote in. I wish I had been old enough to vote in 1980, not that my lone vote would have made any difference.
In 1980, as America prepared to elect a president, with the economy in the worst shape it's ever been in---the prime rate was around 20%---the international image of America carrying much egg on its face due to the demise of Shah-led Iran, followed by the hostage crisis at the embassy in Tehran, along with the botched "rescue attempt" in the Iranian desert, not to mention the quagmire surrounding Cold War issues like nuclear arms reduction/proliferation ala Salt Talks, etc., nuclear waste disposal issues, nuclear power plant problems like Three Mile Island and horrific meltdown scenario fears, there was in place a process to increase, step-by-step, the fuel efficiency of American-made automobiles, thus decreasing in the long term American dependence on foreign sources of oil. This process was a response to the Arab oil embargo of 1973 and the ensuing gas crisis. In 1980 this plan was included under the general heading "government regulation," a buzzword employed by the Republican party, seeking to put candidates into office, to indicate an evil they promised to eliminate. The idea was that this requirement placed on American business---this regulation---in this specific example, on American automakers, hampered their ability to efficiently and profitably conduct business, and that this was why the economy was in such bad shape. If this "regulatory apparatus" were reduced, or even removed, then American business would thrive, and the benefits would trickle down to all the people.
It was a sales pitch. And it worked. Reagan, the Republicam candidate, won. Carter, the Democratic incumbent, was defeated. Republicans, for years afterward, swept into office all over the land. The "regulatory appartaus" was dismantled. And American business did seem to thrive.
The campaign question in 1984 was, "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" Many people answered "yes." Reagan won again, and the first Bush after that.
But America lost.
Because the gas mileage rating of cars made in America went down.
Cars made in America today get fewer miles per gallon than cars made in 1979; after almost thity years of research and develpoment in internal combustion theory; something I have some small knowledge of; fuel economy is worse now; not better. Thanks to the Republican political promise of "deregulation."
This fact stands on its own. So I can't really buy John McCain's rhetoric on "ending American dependence on foregin sources of oil." I've seen and heard this kind of thing before. Only now they think they can put the shoe on the other foot, so to speak. But the fact remains the same: if John McCain, and by extension the Republican party, was really, truly serious about ending American dependence on foreign sources of oil, well, they had a prime opportuinity to do that thirty years ago. And they chose not to make use of that opportunity. They chose, in fact, to go in the opposite direction. They chose to increase American dependence on foreign sources of oil by dismantling the regulatory apparatus then in place. And that regulatory apparatus was put in place to help us, to help you, me, we the People.
If the Republicans, and by extension John McCain, really meant what they said we would have advances in solar by now, in wind power, cars that get fifty miles per gallon, hybrids fifteen years ago. They would have put money into that stuff. But they didn't. They put their money where their mouths are. Or, their mouths where the money is: in the pockets of their buddies, the corporations. Because they don't mean what they say. They just want to get elected. They want the power. And they don't want to use the power to help anyone but themselves and their buddies.
No, I can't really support John McCain, or anyone on the Republican ticket, because I've been paying attention. I've been paying attention for a long time. I've heard what they say. And I've seen what they do. It just does not match up. It doesn't balance. They say what they need to say to get elected, to get themselves into power. Once there, they do what they want. Or what they're told by their buddies, their masters, the corporations. Supposedly it'll all trickle down to we the People at some point.
But I don't know...Are you better off than you were four years ago? Eight? Thirty? Because I know I ain't. And I know America isn't.