No. 976
December 12, 2018
 

About The Autoextremist

Peter M. DeLorenzo has been immersed in all things automotive since childhood. Privileged to be an up-close-and-personal witness to the glory days of the U.S. auto industry, DeLorenzo combines that historical legacy with his own 22-year career in automotive marketing and advertising to bring unmatched industry perspectives to the Internet with Autoextremist.com, which was founded on June 1, 1999. DeLorenzo is known for his incendiary commentaries and laser-accurate analysis of the automobile business, as well as racing and the business of motorsports. Author. Commentator. Influencer. The Consigliere. Minister of the High-Octane Truth. DeLorenzo is considered to be one of the most influential voices commenting on the business today.

DeLorenzo's latest book is Witch Hunt (Octane Press  witchhuntbook.com). It is available on Amazon in both hardcover and Kindle formats, as well as on iBookstore. DeLorenzo is also the author of The United States of Toyota.

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The Autoextremist - Rants


Tuesday
Nov042008

RANTS #470

November 5, 2008

 

Dear President-Elect Obama.

By Peter M. De Lorenzo

Detroit. Well, you did it. Words like “historical,” “unprecedented” and “a fundamental shift” are being bandied about this morning, and they’re all true. You have already accomplished what a lot of people thought you could never do, to get voters to abandon their fog of complacency and actually come to the polls and vote – the single most important act a citizen of this great country can do - and to galvanize this nation like no politician has in decades. The people voted for a new beginning. They voted for that elusive but promising term, “change.” And they voted - more so perhaps than any other reason – for hope. A tall order indeed.

So I congratulate you, sir. But alas, your moment of triumph is destined to be incredibly short lived, because I’m afraid this country has no time for a victory lap. The problems and issues we’re facing are threatening to collectively overwhelm us, and we need visionary leadership from you and our representatives in Washington. And we need it right now.

We need you all to set aside the kind of polarizing, shrill and divisive debate that we’ve come to expect out of Washington in recent years, because it’s like we’re watching a bad TV show that we can’t turn off.

We need you to purge the aura of vindictiveness that seems to permeate what passes for “leadership” in Washington these days, because it’s so off-putting that we’re losing hope – there’s that word again – losing hope in our leadership, hope in our system and hope in our future.

It’s like we – the citizens – don’t matter anymore, because we’ve been swept aside in favor of lobbyists, special interests and financial “wizards” who have let us down at every turn, and who have left whole parts of this country reeling and hurting and desperate.

And worse yet, all of this has left us feeling that we’ve become part of a country that none of us recognize anymore. No, this isn’t some nostalgia-laced longing for us to go back in time to some postcard America that can’t be recreated; instead it’s a fervent wish and desire to get this country back on an even keel.

Is that too much to ask?

We need to get back to being a country filled with hard-working people who care about striving and achieving and who care about each other, rather than a country paralyzed by legions of self-absorbed citizens who have mastered the two most distressing phrases in America today: “What’s in it for me?” and “Whatever.”

It’s not the country we grew up with, Mr. Obama. It’s not the country that survived financial ruin in the early 30s, world wars, cold wars and every threat imaginable. It’s not the country that nurtured blue-sky dreamers and entrepreneurs at every turn, the country that rewarded ingenuity, hard work and success, the country that did great things across a broad spectrum of disciplines, avocations and pursuits.

Instead we’ve become a nation of bitter, vicious factions, an embarrassingly bad circus of pointing fingers and relentless huffing and puffing - consumed by narrow-minded thinkers and narrow-minded thinking - while there’s real work to be done and real challenges to face.

Speaking of which, right now we’re facing a financial crisis that is threatening to plunge this country into a full-on depression. And that crisis was brought on by a system based on financial instruments that could be manipulated by a few for tremendous gain by those same few. But allowing that much financial decision making to be entrusted to a few – and just assuming they’d do the right thing for the country as a whole – proved to be disastrous, and unfortunately when that house of illusion collapsed it took us all down with it. There is plenty of blame to go around and much of it has been assigned already, so I’m not going to belabor that point today.

But of all the things on your plate - our financial institutions’ implosion, the continuing military action in Iraq and Afghanistan, the looming threat of a newly belligerent Russia, the myriad strategic threats, the endless global issues and the pitiful shape we find our educational system in – there is one imminent crisis that threatens to derail your Presidency before it even gets out of the gate, and that is the certain collapse of the domestic automobile industry and the looming consequences to our nation if swift action isn’t taken.

This is about real work, sir. The kind of work that built this country from scratch and powered this nation to a level of greatness never seen before. The kind of work that has defined our nation’s soul for as long as we can remember. The kind of work that helped the middle class thrive and flourish.

And that kind of real work has been undermined at every turn, unfortunately. The American manufacturing sector has been eroding for years. Wildly naïve government policies in the face of a global marketplace with little inclination to adhere to our view of how business should be conducted is one reason for this, and lobbyists who are bought and paid for by foreign governments and industries is another.

Our national obsession for getting things on the cheap – the “Wal-Mart” syndrome - isn’t helping, either. We have become a nation of bargain hunters, consumer zombies addicted to deals that feed into our instant gratification and “right now” mindset. Unfortunately that mindset is helping destroy our country from within by contributing to the decline of our manufacturing sector. And this is having a devastating effect on our long-term strategic future too.

Let me get back to the issues facing the domestic automobile industry, one of the pillars of our manufacturing base in this country. The threat to the “Detroit 3” has far-reaching implications for all of us. One in 14 jobs is either directly or indirectly connected to the domestic automobile industry. Repeat that figure to yourself because it’s daunting. We’re not just talking about the threat to one of America’s core industries here, and it’s not just Michigan or the other scarred “flyover states” that will be devastated by this either, because there are automotive suppliers and dealerships big and small all across the country that would be immediately affected if Detroit is allowed to go bankrupt. And for a nation teetering on a deep recession, I don’t need to tell you that a bankrupt Detroit could send this nation over the edge – and right off a cliff.

Spare me the free-market proselytizing and the collegiate level economic theorizing that is popular with so many whenever this is mentioned, because there’s no time for that anymore. The debate about whether or not Detroit needs financial help? That ship has sailed. We’ve gone way past the point of no return at this juncture because Detroit is just months away from catastrophe. Now it’s only a question of how much money and how soon it can get here. I’m sure you and your advisors are well aware of the urgency at this point.

Mr. Obama, you come to be the 44th President of the United States at the most pivotal time in our nation’s history. Not since the calamity of the Great Depression or the harrowing threat to our democracy in World War II has this nation been on the brink of unfathomable disaster.

The posturing, stump speeches and pat speeches that went over so well on the campaign trail count for exactly zero right now. We all know the difference between campaign rhetoric and substantive analysis, discussion and decision making, so at this point we’re not really interested in hearing one more word.

Instead we want rolled-up sleeves, clear thinking and a clean sheet of paper. We want the Best and the Brightest that this country can muster, and we want those individuals to attack our problems with a zeal that we haven’t seen in Washington in at least 40 years.

We need action, Mr. Obama, because for too long we’ve seen inaction, excuses and a general shirking of responsibility and accountability at every turn in Washington.

But most of all, sir, we need hope.

Hope that our representatives will have the strength, the courage and the vision to step up and deliver the kind of leadership that this nation so desperately needs.

Hope that our nation is not on the precipice of a cataclysmic decline but instead is on the verge of a great new era of innovation, creativity and global leadership.

And finally, hope that you can make a difference. Hope that you can get this country back on track. And hope that there’s somehow and some way that you can bring us all together again.

We’re counting on you, Mr. Obama.

Thank you for listening.