Mondale lost, their preeminent issue would be massively publicized, and the party would be committed in advance to major efforts at deficit reduction after the election. No one else, however, saw much reason to cheer. Less directly concerned than the financiers \(and. for those on the outside, sometimes skeptical that Mondale really meant what he wait for a second Reagan administration to chop social spending to the bone. Nor were industries hurt by the high exchange rate of the dollar moved by Mondale’s claims that lower deficits would lead to lower interest rates. Aware, as one multinational Democrat admitted, that if Mondale won, “labor would have a stronger voice, these firms were hardly enthusiastic at the prospect of conceding in wages what they might gain on lower interest and exchange rates. And for all his talk, even Mondale’s commitment to lowering interest rates was doubted by many; after all, he never made a major issue of the Fed’s tight-money policies. Poor and middle class Americans also were unimpressed. Could even Jesse Jackson rouse a crowd of the unemployed to march, sing, and demonstrate in favor of higher taxes? Without any job program at all? Many dispirited organizers of the foundation-sponsored “get out the vote” drives soon realized that the answer was probably no. . . . HARASSED BY media attacks on Ferraro’s tangled finances, Mondale’s campaign [by late August] sank lower and lower in the polls. With most of the business community behind him, more than two thirds of the press formally endorsing him \(to and campaign contributions breaking all records, Reagan had an easy time. Certain to capture a heavy majority of upper income groups, all the President had to do was to split off a minority of the working class vote. Unless the poor voted in unprecedentedly large numbers, he would win by a landslide. The Reagan campaign, accordingly, dusted off the old tried and true formulas for consternating blue collar voters. Aware, thanks to its highly sophisticated polling operation, that most affluent American men and women would not vote against their economic interests merely because the President endorsed some eccentric views on social issues, the White House stepped up its appeals to conservative religious groups. The President praised Jerry Falwell, campaigned at Catholic shrines, appeared on stage with Catholic bishops, and denounced abortion. He also associated himself with the Olympics, wrapped his campaign in the flag, and scored it with country music. The White House also sat by while conservative groups operating “independently” of the campaign raised and spent some $10 million dollars for the President’s reelection on their own. Last, but hardly least, all the .powers of incumbency were working for Reagan at the end of the campaign. The huge political business cycle was hitting its peak, with spectacular increases in personal income in the second quarter of 1984. Still suffering from criticism of parts of his weapons program, the President pushed ahead with his huge tive, announced at the very end of the recession. With at least $26 billion in appropriations over its first five years, and almost infinite amounts promised Though Mondale appears to have thought he might gain the whole world, all in fact he had done was sell his own soul, and that of his party. down the road, the Star Wars program \(even more than the rest of the Reagan alternative to the Democrats’ industrial policy proposals. It subsidized “sunrise” sectors and high-tech concerns feeling pressure from the Japanese, without forcing them either to compete directly or make a general compromise on trade. Continuing its piecemeal approach to the trade issue, in September the White House issued its long-awaited plan for the American steel industry. Here it broke with its professed free trade “principles,” and pledged to roll back steel imports, and gave its negotiators until December to work out market sharing agreements with the Europeans and Japanese. In contrast to plans put forward by some Democrats and earlier adjustment schemes implemented under Carter, however, it did not ask the industry for commitments on reinvestment or employee retraining. In short, Reagan was offering something to almost everyone except workers and the poor. In the final weeks of the campaign, Mondale accused Reagan of having a secret plan to raise taxes after the election. Until Reagan’s announcement of an upcoming summit with the Soviets, he flogged away at the arms control and nuclear terror issues. In a memorable speech at George Washington University, he stepped up his rhetoric and briefly seemed to come alive: This election is not about jelly beans and pen pals. It is about toxic dumps that give cancer to our children. This election is not about country music and birthday cakes. It is about old people who can’t pay for medicine. This election is not about the Olympic torch. It is about the civil-rights laws that opened athletics to women and minorities who won those gold medals. . . . This election is not about slogans, like “standing tall.” It is about specifics. like the nuclear freeze because if those weapons go off, no one will be left standing at all. But Mondale still did not have a jobs program to offer, and when the campaign even made noises about redistribution from the rich, his business supporters sharply complained \(at one point drawing from Mondale the reply “Oh my goodness, I’m so sorry. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be rich. and again to the deficit issue, the Mondale campaign turned aside proposals from veteran mediaman Tony Schwartz and others for a series of hardhitting attacks on the Republicans. Once again, the business candidate had almost nothing concrete to offer voters, other than higher taxes. The Democrats also declined to push hard on efforts to register new voters. Many non-partisan groups, to be sure, ran registration efforts aimed at likely Democratic voters. There were more than a hundred of them, supported by about $5 million in foundation and other funding in 1983-84. In addition to canvassing and other traditional registration techniques, several groups attempted strategies of “wholesale” registration, signing people up at socialservice waiting rooms, welfare centers, surplus food distribution lines, and the like. One organization, Human SERVE \(Service Employees Registration and social service agencies, both private and public, to offer registration as a regular service. . . . Throughout all this, the national Democratic establishment sat on the sidelines. There was still talk of voter mobilization, but it was mostly just talk. After months of Democratic stalling on the issue, Mondale’s own field director, Mike Ford, urged him desperately to spend the money needed \(on Ford’s million black, Hispanic, and union voters. But this was not to be. Despite various pledges to spend $5, $10, or $13 million on a national effort, the Democrats wound up spending only about $2 million, most of which was expended late in the campaign on “get out the vote” drives. Of that, about half went THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11
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