Mankato, Minnesota — He was a third year student in college and interested in housing issues. I asked him whom he favored in the Presidential campaign. He replied: “Are you kidding?” I said: “What do you mean?” He replied “Ronald Reagan, of course.”
So I started inquiring about which candidate he thought was superior on specific issues. He observed that Reagan and Mondale each had their “better” positions on a half dozen foreign affairs subjects. Turning to domestic issues, he acknowledged that the massive Reagan deficit and its time-bomb impact on interest rates inflation and employment were serious. In quick succession I asked him which candidate did he prefer on the following: consumer protection, energy, utility rate policy, housing, civil liberties, civil rights, environment, worker health, public lands, children’s programs, treatment of the elderly, approach to the needy and disabled, social security and Medicare, food inspection, cancer prevention, corporate crime, the Supreme Court appointments and fairness in the tax system. He unhesitatingly answered Mondale on all points.
I asked the obvious question: “Aren’t these areas of significance to you?” “Yes”, he said. A few hours later after meetings with students, I heard him say that he was rethinking his position on the Reagan-Mondale contest.
Although it is hard for anyone to reconsider their Presidential preference, I have found that thinking about a list of issues people care about begins the process of over—riding the grip of images, slogans and the two or three impressions about candidates that often govern a voter’s selection. People, in short, need to give themselves time to think about what matters to them and not just react to what is projected over the television screen.
So, in that spirit of reflection, ask yourself whether reading, thinking and talking about your vote for President is worth five hours or ten hours of your time in the last days before November 6th. Even if you have made up your mind, unmake it to test your reasons more rigorously on the issues you have not yet associated with the candidates’ respective records and philosophy.
Furthermore, ask yourself who is more likely to tell the truth? Mondale told the truth that taxes would have to be raised to reduce the deficit, mostly by repealing some recent gaping corporate loopholes and restoring some of the tax cuts on the wealthy. The top five percent of wealthy taxpayers and corporations were given 80% of the benefits of Reagan’s 1981 tax cut. Reagan is plain falsifying when he repeatedly says he would not raise taxes. His aides right now are drafting a tax bill for Congress and, while they will call it “reform”, others will call it more revenues from the working class.
There are books and articles filled with Reagan’s “misspeaking” misspeaking” or “disinformation” (sample “Reagan’s Reign of Error” by Mark Green, Pantheon Press). But there are falsehoods also. Four times just prior to his tax increases after the 1981 tax reduction, Reagan denied that he was going to increase taxes. He even told Helen Thomas of UPI that he never used makeup “when I was in pictures.” The next morning a network television news program interviewed a kindly, retired makeup man in California who said he always made up Ronald Reagan for the movies.
Ten days before the election, Roger Mudd noted that the single most devastating line of the campaign was Reagan’s statement that for Republicans every day is the fourth of July and for Democrats every day is April fifteenth. Mudd said he had not heard a reply. Maybe one answer to Reagan, the world record holder for deficit spending, is that his quip is quite accurate for the multimillionaires who control his government. For the Republican Super Rich, every day is the 4th of July because they do not go to work every day. And every day is not the 15th of April because they pay little or no taxes.
This election is about who is going to rule America? While the Democrats can scarcely be called Progressives, they do on occasion blush when charged with merging their identity with corporate greed or ignoring the needs of workers, consumers and the poor. Such a sensitivity is foreign to the Reaganite government of the Exxons, by the General Motors and for the DuPonts.
Think about what that means to you, your family and the future of America!