Presidential Candidates, Cars, and My Predictions

Mission: To promote driving less so all may live more.

This, I admit, is a quixotic post, in that my critique of the automobile industry touches only tangentially on electoral predictions, but it’s an unlikely union I chose to make. Hopefully, I’ll soon be riding an electric kick scooter so I can finish that short series and forget about politics for a while.

Transportation and the Candidates

It’s becoming likely that Joe Biden will face off with Donald Trump in the November election. Bernie Sanders remains in the picture although it appears the established, moderate Democrats have teamed up against him and settled for Biden. The Libertarian Party holds its primaries toward the end of May, and the Green Party late spring and early summer.[1]

Relevant to this post is a tweet of a press release from President Trump:

Clearly, this position stirs the hearts of many Americans who believe the automobile is a right, a necessity, and an unmitigated blessing. In short, the Americans who do not consider that automobiles are in ways destroying the world. The statement lumps all Democrats together (“who all want to get rid of…”). And it offers as a boast something Person Versus Automobile would consider highly controversial if not downright confessional: that the President is having new automotive plants built “all over Michigan.”

In response, Greg Shrill (whose article “Should Law Subsidize Driving?” is summarized in two earlier posts on this site), responded:

Seventy-five billion dollars is a significant investment for Bernie Sanders to make under his Green New Deal. It’s a funny shade of green but one that seems burned into the American soul.[2]

Shill’s comment makes suspect both the characterization by President Trump of Democratic transportation schemes and of Sanders’ commitment to a green revolution.

How, then, does Joe Biden fare on the national transportation issue? According to his own web site, “Biden will propose to immediately spend $50 billion over the first year of his Administration to kickstart the process of repairing our existing roads, highways, and bridges.”[3]

Of course, read in context, both Sanders’ Green New Deal and Biden’s plan for rebuilding the infrastructure pay significant attention to the need to move away from the gasoline automobile toward cleaner, safer options. Both, in short, are a breath of fresh air for those who see that America’s dependence on the automobile is at best annoying and at worst destroying.

The Presidential Election

However, none of these candidates gets the endorsement of Person Versus Automobile, a loss not quite tantamount to losing the endorsement of The New York Times, I’m sure. None of the candidates is coming out openly and stating that America has gone astray in a very big way from the beauty and natural harmony of self-propulsion. Both the Democratic candidates see electric cars as a significant part of the future. That’s probably a factually true. But it’s not revolutionary. The electric cars still have many downsides, and always will be a problem for those who don’t want to be run over by them or listen to their tires roar against the sounds of nature.

Having come this far, perhaps I’ll make my November prediction, which is something few do before the Democratic primaries have concluded. First, Bernie will for the second time be over-ruled by those with the greater corporate interests (the elite establishment). Then Biden will try to find a running mate who has all the appeal he lacks: perchance a woman whose imagination and courage can interest the multitude of young Democrats who were looking for Sanders on the ballot. Finally, President Trump will win again. Why? Well, surely many Americans like a president building new car plants all over Michigan. He’s fixing the rust belt and making America(n traffic) Great Again. And, finally, for single-issue voters who believe that the unborn are fully human, Trump is the only candidate.

I may be wrong in this prediction, and I hope I am. While I will stand up for the unborn until I lie down in my grave, I am not a single-issue voter, nor do I think destroying the environment and removing EPA regulations is in any way innocent. But I may be right: it seems that the Democratic instinct to offer a Trump-lite candidate—i.e. someone entrenched in corporate interests, yet with an eye on the margins of society—is always going to drive independent voters away, even if it’s in electric cars.[4]



[1] See the following Wikipedia articles: Libertarian Party Presidential Primaries; Green Party Presidential Primaries

[2] This article in Streetsblog USA, which is highly critical of this aspect of the Green New Deal, says that 80% of the $75 billion will go to highways themselves: Bernie’s ‘Green New Deal’: What’s In It For Transit?

[3] Invest in Middle Class Competitiveness

[4] Biden’s stance on abortion is less clear than Sanders’. See Trump Is a Disaster for Abortion Rights — but Joe Biden Can’t Be Trusted to Fight for Choice for a discussion that worries Biden might slip back into his Roman Catholic bias against abortion.

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