It is becoming increasingly apparent that the policies enacted by President Obama and his administration, meant to boost American industry, seem to have had limited effect considering the continued sag in sales of American automobiles. This may be due largely to the fact that Mr. Obama has failed to use all the tools in his arsenal to combat our economic crisis.
An appropriate question for our president might be: Why isn’t he using his considerable influence and popularity to sell American products?
The idea of a government sales campaign is nothing new in America. During World War II, the government introduced the war bond, a series of U.S. savings bonds that were sold on the idea that the government would use the proceeds to fund the war against the Axis powers.
Initially called defense bonds, these enjoyed a great amount of popularity amongst the American people, due in part to massive drives that were used to sell them. These drives were supported on two fronts: the United States government, and most notably President Franklin D. Roosevelt himself, and also the American entertainment community.
To sell these bonds, Roosevelt used every tool he could, including federal funds and America’s patriotic fervor. On a personal level, Roosevelt pitched war bonds in his radio addresses and in his speeches to the nation.
The entertainment industry also put its full force behind the government’s efforts to sell war bonds. Using everything from comic books to Hollywood movies and radio programs, entertainers urged the public to buy these bonds because they were not only a good investment but the right thing to do considering that America found itself embroiled in a war to protect liberty.
The success of the partnership between government and entertainment was undeniable, as the cash necessary to fight the Axis war machine flowed into the government and in the end helped to finance the victory over fascism.
The truth behind this success is that Roosevelt and the entertainment industry were not merely asking Americans to invest in bonds, they were compelling Americans to invest in themselves and their future.
Today, America finds itself embroiled in another conflict. This time that conflict is an economic crisis of proportions we haven’t seen since the days of Roosevelt. As massive industries sit on the verge of collapse, our government has infused billions of dollars in bailout cash into several of them as a short-term solution, but they’ve done little to help create long-term stability, which requires in part that Americans once again see value in patronizing American industry.
The best example of this is the embattled American auto industry, which was given a new lease on life, financed by the taxpayer, when the current administration bailed them out to the tune of billions of dollars - a solution that was short term at best.
In addition, the cash-for-clunkers scheme was put in place to provide a temporary jolt to the industry. The effectiveness of both have been questionable, but what is apparent is that the Obama administration has done little to help convince the American people that the American automobile is a worthy investment.
Mr. Obama has considerable resources at his disposal to convince Americans that buying American is a great investment and a social imperative. From his weekly radio addresses, to his near-ubiquitous appearance on various media outlets, the president has done much to sell his agenda, but hasn’t lifted a finger to sell the fruits of the American worker.
If the president sent out a call to today’s entertainment sector, it more than likely would be willing to lend a hand. The industry has seemed more than willing to help advance his career and policy agenda with little incentive other than what its members believe to be a patriotic duty.
Just recently we have seen Mr. Obama call upon his friends in entertainment. The entertainment industry has devoted considerable resources to pushing Mr. Obama’s so-called “call to service” initiative. To this effect, Hollywood altered plotlines of stories to reflect this call and promote volunteerism. Wouldn’t that time have been better devoted to alleviate the plight of the American worker, who finds his market share shrinking in the global market?
On numerous occasions, Mr. Obama has cited Roosevelt as one of the president he most admires. Unfortunately when it came time for him to convince the American people to invest in themselves, he seems to have balked.