The Reagan group is claiming a thunderous mandate. Judging by the way their campaign of fluff, flattery and facade replaced pressing matters of substance, not to mention any specifics of what they planned in a second term, the Reaganites ran a personality parade.
Political observers kept reminding us of the gap between voters opposition to many policies favored by Reagan and their preference for Mr. Reagan’s stars and stripes.
Nonetheless the election is over. So what second thoughts may the key parties be having?
The Reaganites, after their initial exuberance, may he feeling a little prevaricatory about breaking the news of a fare increase to the American people. And how are they going to say they love America when they further turn their hack on the sick, elderly, poor, students and disabled, while the megabillion corporate welfare and privilege budget remains untouched by the Gipper.
The Mondale team could ask itself why many hours of free unedited television network time were turned down. If accepted, this exposure would have introduced their candidate to millions of Americans who like amiable, honest politicians who have a record more attractive than their rhetoric. By not accepting free television, Mondale left himself only paid political ads and 30 seconds on the nightly news usually reading from a script.
The professional Democrats who ran this campaign and the party apparatus should look as quickly as possible for people to replace them who are very different. After losing two elections by wide margins to the most uninformed, dissembling politician running a cruel deficit-ridden, wasteful government, its time they gave themselves the pink slip. Even Reagan’s media management, shimmering with symbol and tinsel, would not have saved his regime were there a worthy opposition party campaign strategy.
The press must feel like the man swept up by a tornado and deposited back where he had stood. James Reston of the New York Times, writing on November 4th, said “Mr. Reagan beat the press by ignoring them . . . he dismissed The White House press corps with a wave and a smile.” He also took them on a mirage trip with Air Force One and returned to Washington as if they hadn’t come along. Maybe instead of intoning the escapist phrase “The Teflon Presidency”, members of the Fourth Estate will start thinking about ways to make the President more accessible to their questions and less accessible to their mimeograph machines.
The citizens, voters and non-voters, need to place some standards on themselves. Did they spend even a few hours since September studying and thinking about the record and deeds of the candidates on, say, fifty issues that concern them and their families? Did they vote on a hunch, an image or a feeling? Did they drop out of democracy and not vote at all? There are various levels of being a more or less informed voter and we should be sensitive to these differing qualities, as we are in other walks of life, so we can improve our judgment on election day.
Lastly, what of the few tens of thousands of citizens, unaffiliated with any party, who worked the Months before the elections as volunteers to register, educate and help turn out voters at the polls. They have the least need for second thoughts other than how to expand this citizen force in future elections where the winner won’t be able to come on like Miller Time.