1980 Malaise & Decline: The media described the 39th U.S. president’s effect upon America’s economy with one word—“malaise.” Jimmy Carter’s austerity and regulatory policies had promoted state-run economic anemia. Carter-led foreign policy emboldened America’s enemies. Viewed as a minor league player from a peanut farm in Georgia, America’s adversaries welcomed with derision their opponent as if he were captain of the USS Spineless.
Two-bit Latin American dictators, Iranian mullahs and Islamic terrorist heads of state, all conducted war of words to test American response, then murdered, hijacked, jailed, and took Americans hostages while cozying up to Russian arm suppliers. Confident that ineffective leadership immobilized post-Vietnam America, aggressors expanded into Latin America, Asia, Afghanistan, and the Middle East while cries for freedom behind their Iron and other curtains of repression fell on deaf ears. Millions dying in worldwide regional conflagrations fueled by the sardonic foes were met by Carter’s toothless rhetoric in place of projection of American resolve and power to rescue or aid them.
Allied with Speaker Tip O’Neill’s democratic majority in congress the White House had operated for years on the premise of blame Nixon and the Republicans for whatever mess they were in. To extinguish every national brush fire that erupted, a “new deal of the day” response was issued with the aplomb and effectiveness of Carter’s personal handling of the White House tennis court schedule.
Plan “A & B” to deal with national economic chaos? Raise taxes. Graduated income tax rates up to 70 percent on personal income and capital gains rates punishing business growth coupled with inflation created the birth of the trade and industry lethargy offering a descriptive new expression; “stagflation.” Joblessness soared.
Plan “A & B” to deal with foreign threats and acts of aggression? Talk. Minimizing American exceptionalism with apology, Carter constantly acquiesced to demands made by the enemies of traditional American freedom, either by tacit approval or tepid declarations of righteous indignation.
A toxic result of inept domestic and foreign policies linger today as indisputable historical fact. Those of us struggling to get a start in life in Carter years experienced “trickle down” shortages and inflationary costs for basic goods and services, interest rates of 21 percent, job losses, weakened currency, and general insecurity about the future. Those suffering from iron-fist rule around the globe knew there would be no “U.S. Cavalry to the rescue;” no projection of American power under Jimmy Carter’s stewardship over an unnecessary military decline.
2010 a surreal déjà vu: Political conditions and headlines of 2010 include alarming “back to the future” surrealism. The short list: Worldwide Islamic terrorism, socialist Latin American dictators spewing anti-American vitriol, derisive comments about our economy and leadership from foreign powers, the nuclear arming of Iran by the Russians, a weakening dollar with threat of losing status as the world’s currency of choice, out-of-control government spending and bureaucratic growth, lawlessness on under-managed borders, unparalleled drug wars, nuclear proliferation by rouge nations, threats against American cities from radicals seeking to possess weapons of mass destruction, regressive energy policies, oil supplies controlled by enemies.
Carter 2 on Steroids: The Obama agenda is openly socialist-radical and demonstratively belligerent to traditional free market economics, lower taxes, and smaller government; all fixes which Reagan proved worked after a weakened nation required renewal on the heels of Carter’s malaise. Embracing “Carter 1” at the speed of light, purposely injecting decline into the American bloodstream through tainted syringes of failed liberal ideologies, leaves one to wonder if with Obama it is, “stupid is as stupid does.” Worse, Americans are openly beginning to wonder if Obama’s focus is a planned event; the breaking of America’s economic and military strength to remake her in the image of socialized European nations, for whom hundreds of thousands of Americans died in two world wars.
NOTE: The last time these conditions existed there was a Reagan on the horizon, a Cold War that could be won, a Berlin Wall to fall, a Soviet Empire to collapse, an economy that could be rescued.
James Michael Pratt is a New York Times bestselling novelist and non-fiction author of nine works , CEO of PowerThink Publishing, public speaker, and Founder of Reagan Revolution 2. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.