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While the media and political hacks argued earlier this week about whether or not Chrysler's two-minute halftime Super Bowl ad starring Clint Eastwood was meant to be a veiled endorsement of President Obama, I was struck by an altogether different question: Is this really who we want to have telling us who we are?

Because so many people have seen the ad, because it is so effective and powerful, and because there's been so much chatter about it, it's worth examining it more closely. What stories does the ad evoke? What does it say about who we are? Is this really who we are? Is it who we want to be? Is this how we see ourselves? Or is it just how the Chrysler corporation wants us to see ourselves?

Many favorable responses to the ad have streamed by in my Facebook newsfeed. It has generated lots of enthusiasm. In a tweet on Sunday night, Michael Moore referred to it as a "sermon":

And Clint, the consensus is u done a good thing standing up 4 Detroit--& your sermon seemed 2 b a call 2 give O his "second half." #sellcars
The story the ad tells is one we like, one we've heard often, one we want to believe. It is optimistic in a bootstrappy kind of way. It appeals to our sense of national pride. That it's Clint Eastwood who delivers the message is in fact an important part of the message. Mr. Eastwood conjures visions of everything from Rowdy Yates in Rawhide (if you're old enough) to Dirty Harry (even if you're not old enough) to Walt Get-Off-My-Lawn Kowalski in Gran Torino (2008). He's tough. He's manly. He's in charge. If he's on your team, you feel safe, protected, secure. If he's on the other team, you're screwed.

While Eastwood is saying "we all rallied around what was right and acted as one," we see a series of black-and-white still shots of families and then we move on to color shots of families in—surprise!—cars and trucks. When he says "because that's what we do," we're watching a dad drop his son off at school. Because, you know, it would have been so much less cool for the kid to walk or take the bus. As Eastwood is saying "we find a way through tough times, and if we can't find a way, then we'll make one," all the images are of people either in vehicles or loading them. By now the viewers are eating this stuff up with a spoon. We're tough! We're determined! We can do it! Ruh!

As Eastwood asks "how do we win?" we return to footage of Dirty Harry Mr. Eastwood. We see a close-up of him as he says, "This country can’t be knocked out with one punch [mouth almost closed, teeth clenched, exuding defiance, determination, grit]. We get right back up again, and when we do, the world's going to hear the roar of our engines."

The roar of our engines. This is what the entire ad has been leading up to. We are America. Hear our engines roar. We are car people. People of the road. We have a collective love affair with the automobile. That this has been true ever since Henry Ford rolled the first Model T off the assembly line makes this a story that is readily invoked. It's one we all know deep down and by heart. We are all of us a part of this story.

Chrysler isn't just trying to sell you a car in this ad. It's reinforcing our identity as a nation of car lovers.

Perhaps, though, it is time for us to turn a corner, to go down a new road. Might we be so bold as to develop enthusiasm for other, better ways to get around? Could we call on our collective ingenuity to transform ourselves into a nation smitten with public transportation?

I lived for a brief time in Amsterdam, where you can go to a nearby train station—without ever checking a schedule—and be assured that in no more than fifteen minutes a train will be departing for any Dutch city you care to visit. And the return trip will be just as easy. It's fast, convenient, inexpensive, and even fun. I loved that. I miss that. I long for that.

Building more and better public transportation networks in and between our cities would create jobs and reduce congestion. They would be safer, less harmful to the environment, and more readily available to everyone. They would be a collective enterprise that would benefit not only those of us who need to get around but also those of us who breathe. Think of it. With a really good public transportation system, we'd need fewer auto repairs, have fewer car accidents, spend less on gasoline. Very likely even our insurance rates would go down.

Improving our public transportation could also mean a metaphorical transformation, a change in how we see ourselves. As people of the car, each of us moves around separate from everyone else. We are isolated and on our own. As a public transportation nation, we would get where we're going together. That would be a new story that would be a gift not only to ourselves but to our children and to the planet.

Originally posted to Worley Dervish on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 04:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Kosowatt, Global Expats, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  You make a good point. But until/unless we make (10+ / 0-)

    big changes in advancing public transportation, the automobile will continue to represent freedom. If you don't own a car and live in an area, rural obviously and even some urban centers, underserviced by public transit, there are jobs that are literally out of reach.

    Ds see human suffering and wonder what they can do to relieve it. Rs see human suffering and wonder how they can profit from it.

    by JTinDC on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 04:53:54 AM PST

    •  That's my point. (10+ / 0-)

      That we need to put a lot of work into improving our public transportation.

      "The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die." --Edward M. Kennedy ♦ Worley Dervish on Facebook

      by MaryRW on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 07:23:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Mass transit doesn't go to every location. (3+ / 0-)

      But it can go to most locations and gives people the ultimate freedom: time.

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 09:50:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  When it comes to buses, it does NOT give people (4+ / 0-)

        time. Ask most people who take the bus and they'll tell you that while taking the bus takes less time than walking, but driving, except for rush hour, is much quicker than taking the bus.

        Ds see human suffering and wonder what they can do to relieve it. Rs see human suffering and wonder how they can profit from it.

        by JTinDC on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 10:14:18 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's exactly why (6+ / 0-)

          our mass transit systems need a major overhaul. As they are now, they don't work very well and are obviously not a high priority for most urban areas.

          "The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die." --Edward M. Kennedy ♦ Worley Dervish on Facebook

          by MaryRW on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 10:23:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  We are too big and too spreadout to have public (9+ / 0-)

          transportation as the only solution, however, we can greatly improve our public transportation around cities and we can connect them with regular train travel to other cities. If you are an urban dweller you shouldn't need a car to get around. Subway or metro is my preference, buses where I live are dirty, smelly, time consuming poor attempts at providing transportation for the general public. Trollies and light rail seem better to me. ELECTRIC CARS for the suburbs with the electricity coming from renewable sources of electricity would be the best substitute for what we do now. I have a Volt and I rarely use gasoline with only about 36 miles of electric range. However, my Volt doesn't roar. Where I hear my Volt roar is when I look at my electric bill, which is just a few dollars over what we used to pay without the electric car. Compared to what I used to pay out for gasoline, my electric bill seems to be roaring, "Why didn't you do this sooner?" Oh, yea, because there wasn't the choice before.

          please consider the environment - do you really need to print this comment?

          by joelado on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 10:30:09 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  My husband converted a Mazda pickup to (0+ / 0-)

            Electric 10 years ago. We live 11 miles from work and during the couple years we were able to carpool in the EV our monthly gas bill was about $25. Of course the lead-acid battery packs and the initial conversion were pricey, but we sure have a smaller carbon footprint than most folks, especially since our electricity is mostly hydro-generated here in the NW. By the way, our second vehicle is a Prius.

            It's felt good over the years to thumb our noses at the damn oil companies.

            Can't never did nothin'; Can Do did!

            by susanWAstate on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 10:23:29 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  When systems are poorly planned (0+ / 0-)

          Or insufficient, buses can indeed be slow.

          But one bus carries more people than can ride in a block full of cars and when they are frequent enough, that reduces traffic and speeds it up for everyone.

          As I noted up-thread, lots of people have no positive experience with mass transit so they are convinced it cannot work.

          What about my Daughter's future?

          by koNko on Fri Feb 10, 2012 at 08:20:03 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Actually, it doesn't (0+ / 0-)

        because it takes a hell of a long time to get somewhere far using public transportation.

      •  It's harder here than in postwar Europe (0+ / 0-)

        Europeans had to rebuild so much of their countries. Laying all sorts of tracks, from inter-city rail to steetcars was far more plausible than it is here. We're taking baby steps in that direction, when we could be doing much more, but we will bump up against physical limitations that Europeans did not have to contend with.

        Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

        by FischFry on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 08:47:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I see it as a metaphor (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Fiat/Chrysler is selling the Fiat 600 for God's Sake.

      Roar? It is a metaphor.

      Yes we need public transportation, but while we wait it would be nice for our domestic automakers to make and sell some of their much improved and far more efficient cars.

      Okay, yes I was half-owner and drove a dirt-track stock car in my senior year of High School. I confess. But let's not get all doctrinaire about this.

      It was a metaphor. Awkward? Maybe, but this is Clint Eastwood, what the heck do you expect? It was great, it was interesting, about twenty times better than the previous year's Eminem version. Give credit where it is due.

  •  This has always been my dilemma... (15+ / 0-)

    I'm an unapologetic car guy. My first car was an AMC Gremlin with a 304 V-8. If I could buy any car I wanted today, I'd get a new Dodge Challenger R/T. I love the "roar of our engines."

    But when traveling long distances, I would rather get on an Amtrak train. If the 24 miles of roads between my home and my job were bike-friendly, I'd buy a bike. I want to see better mass transit, and I'm definitely open to "better ways to get around."

    My ideal world, then, would be one in which Americans are far less dependent upon our automobiles, but in which there was still a place for thrashing a high-performance car on a twisty bit of road. And BTW, that high-performance car could be a hybrid or electric, and I'd still be happy. After all, we now have the technology to reproduce the roar of our engines electronically.

    I vote we run Rick Scott out of Florida on a high-speed rail.

    by ObamOcala on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 05:36:04 AM PST

    •  I understand completely. (3+ / 0-)

      I'm married to an unapologetic car guy. Happily, he was very supportive when I read him the diary. But then, he usually is.

      "The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die." --Edward M. Kennedy ♦ Worley Dervish on Facebook

      by MaryRW on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 10:26:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Define long distances (0+ / 0-)

      My daughter lives in California. Even if I wanted to take the train, I can't afford it - not in time or money.

      Not that I'd drive, because that would take too long as well, and probably cost what the train does. But at least I'd stop for the night and have a bed and a shower.

      For travel up/down the east coast, provided you live close enough to a station, yes, Amtrak is great. For a few other areas it might be as well.

      But for more than that, it's a joke. An expensive joke.

      •  A few other areas (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The Eastern and Western seaboards, the Gulf coast from Houston to Miami, the Colorado strip, the Great Lakes region all have population densities similar to or greater than that of Spain or France.

        Rail won't work for cross-country trips (except for leisure), and it won't be viable in much of the Great Plains and the West. But it would be for the majority of the population. That it isn't is a choice we've made.

  •  If Clint had just posed "the purr of our Hybrids" (11+ / 0-)

    would it have had as much impact?

    "George Washington: "The power under the Constitution will always be in the people.... and whenever it is executed contrary to their interest, or not agreeable to their wishes, their servants can, and undoubtedly will, be recalled." 1787

    by moose67 on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 05:43:32 AM PST

  •  Good point on public transit... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Churchill, mookins, ColoTim, mmacdDE

    Though I'm not sure how practical public transit is for broad swaths of the country that aren't urban centers. Smaller cities and towns are built around cars and the freedom inherent in them.

    Public transportation is absolutely a must for large population centers, and I'd really like to see more high speed rail for long distance travel, but public transport is just impractical for so much of the country that has grown used to the freedom of being where they want, when they want without relying on anyone else's schedule.

    In my mind, the answer is cleaner cars, transitioning into hybrid and then electric as infrastructure adjusts to accomidate electric cars. We're making progress on that front, not as fast as I'd like, but progress nonetheless.

    "There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: Make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible." - Henry Ford

    by sixeight120bpm on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 05:57:39 AM PST

    •  Even with cleaner cars, though, (4+ / 0-)

      urban areas are getting more and more congested. I never meant to suggest that we get rid of cars altogether or that we not continue to make them as fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly as they can be.

      People in urban areas and small towns obviously wouldn't benefit as much from an overhauled public transportation system.

      According to the Federal Highway Administration, 79.219 percent of the U.S. population lived in urban areas (over 50,000 pop.) as of the 2000 Census.

      "The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die." --Edward M. Kennedy ♦ Worley Dervish on Facebook

      by MaryRW on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 07:33:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't necessarily dissagree with you. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        And maybe its just because I'm from Iowa and Des Moines is the largest city I'v ever lived in, so my knowledge of life in urban areas is mostly second hand. However, it seems to me that the major draw of the car is freedom. Freedom to go where you want, when you want. For me, personaly, being restricted by a bus schedule would seem like an inconvenience at best.

        Thats the inconvenience we need to overcome in order for public transportation to become more widely used.

        Jetpacks (solar powered, of course) for everyone! :D

        "There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: Make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible." - Henry Ford

        by sixeight120bpm on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 07:53:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  But not paying for a car's upkeep (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sixeight120bpm, mookins

          can also be exciting, as well as the triumph of getting somewhere more easily and faster by public transport.

          The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

          by ybruti on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 08:15:33 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  of course (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ColoTim, mmacdDE

            if you can get somewhere quicker and easier with public transport, then absolutely you should, and that should be the goal of public transport. I think its going to take some creative engeneering to make it a widely adopted reality though.

            All of our infrastructure is built around personal transportation. We need to prove to the average person that public transportation can be quicker and easier than hopping in the car and driving acros town. In dense urban areas where traffic congestion is a real problem, I don't see that being much of a challenge. the 50,000 people figure MaryRW used above to define "urban" seems low to me, 50k is not that big of a city. You aren't likely to find a traffic jam that doesn't involve a wreck or road construction in a town of 50k people. I'm not really sure how big a city needs to get before traffic becomes a real problem, It never was when I lived in Des Moines. In these smaller cities, its going to be more difficult to convince the general population that public transport is the better option.

            I like public transport, and I want to see more of it, but I think its going to take a broad cultural shift to make it happen. In the mean time, I believe the focus should be to support detroit and encourage them to keep making better, cleaner cars.

            "There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: Make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible." - Henry Ford

            by sixeight120bpm on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 08:51:57 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I live in a small city (0+ / 0-)

              and the only time there's a traffic jam worth the name is after a major NASCAR race.

              Maybe, if there's a huge accident. I've lived here almost 30 yrs and I've rarely seen it.

              We have a bus system now, which we didn't have when we moved here. It runs during the day, shuts down at 7ish. It's a great convenience for college kids who don't have cars, and those who for whatever reason can't afford a car or don't have a license. Those who work downtown probably take the bus, because parking is limited and sometimes costs money (horrors!).

              Everybody else drives. Most parking is free, there's not horrible traffic (there is some, but it's not bad), and it's faster, easier, and way more convenient. For some people the bus isn't even an option, because they don't run real early or after 7, and people work those hours.

      •  Mary, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Thank you very much for posting this! We so very much think alike! :)

        And you're right also, about "clean" cars not being a real solution.

        Tipped and Rec'd.

    •  Not really. (5+ / 0-)

      What people get is the illusion of freedom.

      The reality is the great number spend lives sitting in traffic when they could be doing something better, or waiting for under developed, crappy mass transit.

      The majority of Americans may have a poor image of mass transit because they have never experienced how good it can be.

      BTW, cars have a place in well-designed mass-transit system as taxis, share cars or even personal cars, and would be an essential bridge while mass transit systems are built because that takes at least a couple of decades.

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 09:55:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Totally agree (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        about the illusion of freedom. Good point.

        "The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die." --Edward M. Kennedy ♦ Worley Dervish on Facebook

        by MaryRW on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 10:27:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  then lets get it built! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MaryRW, mmacdDE

        I am not against mass transit at all, and I think for dense urban areas they are a must. Where traffic is a problem, mass trasit can, and should be the solution.

        My comment, however, is that traffic is not a problem outside major urban centers. Outside the big american cities, its pretty rare to run into traffic delays. In those areas, its going to take more to convice the general public that mass transit is needed. The average city in america has less than 200,000 people. Thats not enough for traffic to be a real problem if good city planning is involved. In most american cities, it isn't an illusion of freedom at all. Its only an illusion in the big urban centers like LA, New York, Chicago ect.

        So if traffic isn't the problem in those average cities, and you can get in your car and drive across town easier than waiting on a bus, we need to figure out better ways to do mass transit so that public transportation becomes preferable to everyone driving thier own car. Or, as I believe, replace all those cars with american made hybrid and electric vehicles.

        "There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: Make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible." - Henry Ford

        by sixeight120bpm on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 10:33:55 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Looking at it backwards, I think. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I don't mean to sound overly critical, or put you on the defensive. I just think that a great many people look at this thing backwards. To say that we need a solution that reflects the spatial organization of today's America is to approach the problem from the wrong angle.

          Americans are not better concentrated because we made thruways, cars and cheap gas. Cheap gas isn't an option, climate change is a reality, we employ many fewer people making fewer cars for lower wages, and thruways can't match mass transit for volumes.

          Build mass transit in population centers, encourage business investment and affordable housing, and America will reorganize itself into denser cities that justify the mass transit and (if properly planned) allow us to live more efficiently as a country - in terms of energy, cost, time, environment, and space.

          Added bonus: the investment boosts the economy directly (workers hired) and indirectly (consumption and infrastructure multipliers).

          If you want a discussion, please stick to arguing the point. If you wanted something else...please exit the vehicle.

          by robizio on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 07:57:05 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  that sounds good on paper (0+ / 0-)

            and in the long term, I think your approach is the right one. In the near term however, we have to work with what we have. America as a nation is generally resistant to large scale change, we don't like things that upset our daily routine. The kind of cultural changes needed to facilitate the kind of structural reorganization you propose will take time.

            While we work on that, I think its important for the near term to support american industry, american automakers, and make sure that they build better, cleaner cars.

            we should absolutely invest in infrastructure and technology, and making progress toward the kind of civilization that is sustainable over the long term, but when half the nation gives climate change as much credence as the boogie man, we aren't there yet. we have to work with what we have, take small steps. Its like i'v been saying, its going to take a major cultural shift before we can take more than baby steps on this stuff, and that will either take time, or a catastrophic wake up call event. Personalty, I'm hoping it just takes time. Most people will go to great lengths to avoid change, no matter how good it is for them.

            "There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: Make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible." - Henry Ford

            by sixeight120bpm on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 08:24:24 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Past: Trillions on roads| | now: Trillions on P/T (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    80 % of success is JUST SHOWING UP!

    by Churchill on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 06:18:13 AM PST

  •  More cars and more mass transit can be good (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ybruti, ColoTim, Odysseus

    If cars are electric, charged by the sun, and are used mostly to commute, and can be driven onto trains for long trips, then we can enjoy our cars and get together for anything longer than say, 100 miles.
    These car commuter trains could be a total blast.
    I also see Huge RV's, full of batteries and covered in solar panels, parked in large solar camps, waiting for a charge, then hitting the road for another 300 miles until it's time to camp out again for a few days, never paying for fuel.

    "But Brandine, you're supposed to be in Iraq stopping 911!"

    by leftyguitarist on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 07:43:47 AM PST

    •  i like the car commuter train idea. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mookins, mmacdDE, leftyguitarist

      I agree that all long distance passenger trips should be done by train, preferably high speed electric rail, being able to bring along your car and get around on the other end would make that a more interesting possibility. If interstates were left to comercial and military transport, there would likely be a lot fewer accidents too.

      Regarding RVs, I think that could really catch on. My parent's currently are in permanent residents in an RV and my dad is constantly going on about the cost of fuel. they never travel more than a few hundered miles between campsites anyways, if solar could be made to work, I think thats something they would be very interested in.

      "There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: Make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible." - Henry Ford

      by sixeight120bpm on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 08:05:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Do What Is Right (5+ / 0-)
    we all rallied around what was right and acted as one
    • alternative energy- solar, wind, etc.
    • oil alternatives- hybrids, all-electric, bio-diesel (made by friendly algae living in every sewage water treatment plant in the US and from industrial hemp).
    • add your favorites here: _____

    Most of all this commercial calls out those who are impeding the ability of our Nation to accomplish great things.

    "Political ends as sad remains will die." - YES 'And You and I' ; -8.88, -9.54

    by US Blues on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 07:53:34 AM PST

  •  My family (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MaryRW, tacet

    and I are the only ones on our street who have one car. A 2 door compact at that. One of my neighbors has 6 cars and a boat.

    Roar of our engines, the guzzling of our gas, the pathetic way our kids can't even walk to a friend's house. How is that working out for us again?

    Our neighoborhoods, communities are all built around cars. Which are not sustainable and cuts you off from nature and your neighbors. Not to mention the wars we have for the oil, the pollution of our air, water and pretty much all the time we kill in them and the people who are killed on our roads, sidewalks and crossing areas because of distracted, disturbed drivers.

    I thought the commercial was just another way of putting us all to sleep. Ignore the huge ass SUV in the room.

    Sorry, I wasn't a fan of the commercial. At. All. I'm just happy it's pissing off the right wingers.

    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace." ~Jimi Hendrix

    by Damnit Janet on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 07:57:43 AM PST

  •  Hey what if it was Clint Eastwood throwing his hat (0+ / 0-)

    in the ring?

    What would happen if Clint Eastwood wanted to be the next actor president?

    Think about it.

    . . . from Julie, Julia. "Oh, well. Boo-hoo. Now what?"

    by 88kathy on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 08:00:36 AM PST

  •  About the clint thing,,, it was just an ad (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    about giving up our cars AND PLANES, it's for little people, poor people, someone else. How can we stop driving Subarus to go mountain biking and bird watching? There was an entire post yesterday based on the premise that we can agitate for ecologic change but we can't be held accountable in our personal lives for being wasteful.

    But ya, tipped and recced, good one.

    "Slip now and you'll fall the rest of your life" Derek Hersey 1957-1993

    by ban nock on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 08:18:48 AM PST

  •  I happen to love that ad (14+ / 0-)

    And I have spent most of my adult life trying to get built alternatives to cars.

    1) This ad was paid for by a car company. So it is not at all surprising that it is about cars.

    2) What sets this ad apart is the glorification of the building process.

    We have spent the last 35 years de-industrializing USA. This was nothing less than open warfare on the builders and their values and the wounds are deep and profound. The REASON this ad struck such a profound response is that the victims of de-industrialization have been ignored and scorned—in addition to having their lives ruined. So here is an ad that not only recognizes their existence, but glorifies their contribution to nation-building.

    So don't miss the point and worry about who is building another gas-guzzler and why. Because even a nation running on solar cells will have to be built by Eastwood's heroes. And yes, Mr. Rove, these people could become a powerful political force. But no, you don't have to worry about the Democrats organizing the builders because mostly, they hate them as much or more than the Republicans do. After all, the de-industrialization of USA has been a bi-partisan project.

  •  Great diary, thanks (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    for articulating what I was thinking when I saw the ad.

    Facing a spectre of fossil-fuel induced global warming and the imminent pop of the cheap energy bubble, we are not at half-time.

    We're at the two minute warning.

    An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. -Benjamin Franklin

    by martinjedlicka on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 09:20:30 AM PST

  •  But Amsterdam cheated! No fair! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    How dare they invest in infrastructure ! ! That is so, like, cheating!

    What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

    by agnostic on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 09:38:25 AM PST

  •  It was a Chrysler ad and yes it was to sell cars, (8+ / 0-)

    but the message, and the person how delivered it, was meant to make the viewing public aware that an American Auto company does make a good product. I was most impressed with the imagery of just who was shown and not what was shown. The people that were depicted were single mothers, minorities, working class people, and everyday people. Yes, cars and trucks were also pushed as it is a vehicle manufacturing company, and yes, we should invest more into mass transportation, but we must ask just were would we be if we cannot get our manufacturing house in order? We could never even begin to fabricate and manufacture those mass transportation and efficient products without tool and die shops, and facilities set-up with workers who are familiar with manufacturing techniques and experienced in the trades. Everyone needed to pull together, and that also in a subtle comment included government to be able to save one of the last major manufacturing and production industries we have left.

    I would love nothing more than to see us move more to an urban transportation solution that would benefit the environment, and allow us as a society to become healthier as well. We too have traveled throughout Europe and know what, and how others move about and we wish that our politicians from the local level to the Federal level would utilize some common sense when addressing the energy and transportation questions. The reality is that we are a "one man, one horse" transportation mindset with an unlimited resources mentality, and it's the education, and the willingness of the American citizenry to push for changes that will need to be accomplished before we can get off our horses and ride a bike, or sit next to a stranger us on a bus, train, or tram to get to where we need to go on a daily basis when given the opportunity.

    Personally, I liked that ad, and smiled at the end of it when I realized that “Dirty Harry” was talking tough for a good cause, once again…

    "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution, inevitable." - President John F. Kennedy (1917 - 1963)

    by LamontCranston on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 09:39:14 AM PST

  •  Thoughtful and well-written diary (8+ / 0-)

    So I owe you a response ....

    I look at this from more than one angle.

    At face value, it's a great ad to sell cars, which Americans are going to buy, and if it sells a few more manufactured in the US that's good. It is also an ad for Chrysler, which is rebuilding itself and being positively influenced by it's new Italian owner to put more stress on small, economical cars, and hopefully (down the line) more sustainable cars, ecologically and economically.

    If it gets support for Obama and annoys Republicans, that's icing on the cake because even if people are voting for strange reason ("Hear our engines roar") it could lead to better outcomes.

    Before I go on to the mass-transit thingy, full disclosure: I live in a place (Shanghai China) with good and ever improving mass-transit. I own 2 bikes but not a car. I travel by foot, bicycle, urban metro, bus, trolly, HSR and occasionally taxi. I absolutely like it better than owning a car and sitting in traffic because it's faster, cheaper, more convenient, more social (actually come in close proximity to other humans), provides daily exercise and is sustainable. I highly recommend mass transit. People who rant against it either have never had a positive experience to go on, or are slightly crazy.

    Should the US adopt mass transit? Obviously yes. Why? Because:

    - it takes time and work, i.e., sustained economic development & jobs
    - it's economically efficient and sustainable
    - it improves quality of life, i.e., time, more disposable income, socialization
    - it provides a platform for modern life

    And .... it's ass-kicking macho. Listen to those train engines roar. Feel the power.

    And, there will be a place for cars. Electric cars. Cool, fashionable, powerful electric cars. Human sized cars.

    Go ahead, make my day. Pull together and just do it.

    What about my Daughter's future?

    by koNko on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 09:48:38 AM PST

  •  I envy European public transportation (6+ / 0-)

    I know exactly what you mean. It's so easy to get around in Europe without needing a car. The US feels like a third-world country in which the rich have private automobiles and the poor struggle. I want to live in a civilized country in which you see businesspeople, families, everyone, taking trains and subways everywhere and leaving the hassle of cars behind.

    Please visit:

    by Noisy Democrat on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 09:48:55 AM PST

    •  I like it, but Europe is much more dense than (5+ / 0-)

      certain areas of the country, like my state of Colorado and we're overpopulated compared to the rest of the mountain west. Yes there are opportunities to develop better mass transit around the Front Range, from Pueblo up to Fort Collins (and maybe Cheyenne), including Boulder and the main ski areas. Still, the idea of being able to get a train going in your direction within fifteen minutes will really only work if things are well populated (so there are lots of customers) and short distances to travel). The Netherlands has four times Colorado's population and is only about 1/10 the area. So yes to developing mass transit in dense areas, but we will always need independent vehicles to move around Colorado.

      •  OK, maybe Colorado doesn't need it, but (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ColoTim, MaryRW, Odysseus

        here in the most densely populated State in the Union, we could do a lot better. The township I live in is separated from the County Seat by a river about 1/4 mile wide, but to get to jury duty, I have to take a bus to the train station, take a train thru 2 counties other than the one I live in, change trains, and travel thru 2 more "foreign" counties before arriving less than 3 miles from my house.

        Kinda puts the kibosh on going downtown for an afternoon of shopping.

        Don't let millionaires steal Social Security.
        I said, "Don't let millionaires steal Social Security!"

        by Leo in NJ on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 12:32:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  My wife and I love traveling by rail in Europe... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MaryRW, Odysseus

      Viewing the countryside by train is a treat, and we look forward to it. Rail passes are your best bet when traveling over there and depending on your itinerary, one must shop around on the internet for the best ticket purchases/packages. If you aren't strapped for cash, and if you are traveling around holiday times, I suggest that you look into First Class seating as in any countries, you can reserve a seat on your train to your destination. If you decide on second class seating, you take your chances that you may not get seating on the train schedule of your choice as they are packed with travelers trying to get to their holiday destinations and families.

      We could learn so much from their high speed, regional and local rail systems and inner city mass transportation.....

      What a shame...What a waste.

      "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution, inevitable." - President John F. Kennedy (1917 - 1963)

      by LamontCranston on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 02:36:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nice diary. Republished to Global Expats (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and Kosawatt because of the transportation and energy comments.

    Science is hell bent on consensus. Dr. Michael Crichton said “Let’s be clear: The work of science has nothing to do with consensus... which is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right,”

    by Regina in a Sears Kit House on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 10:32:16 AM PST

  •  Well, that's why commerce is commerce (0+ / 0-)

    And it's why politics is politics. The only people who are making this commercial ad political are people who were not involved in its production. You can't fault Chrysler for advocating car ownership. And you can't use this ad politically without running into some cross-messaging.

  •  Get a Life! (0+ / 0-)

    Chrysler is in the car business, and given the resources they've got are doing damn well. I'm not in love with there product line, in fact they haven't got much of anything that interests me, but I'm glad they're still in business and keeping few hundred thousand workers on the job.

    But it sounds like you'd prefer those workers be laid off and waiting for a train that will never come or trying to haul a weeks groceries home from the food shelf on a bicycle?

    •  You're reading a lot into what I wrote (0+ / 0-)

      that's not there. Losing our love affair with cars doesn't mean banning them. Very likely most of the people who would use improved public transportation would still be car owners and the autoworkers would still all be employed. But so would a lot of other people who build and maintain the public transport system.

      "The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die." --Edward M. Kennedy ♦ Worley Dervish on Facebook

      by MaryRW on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 03:21:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Oh yeah! That's who I wanna be (0+ / 0-)

    The asshole who roars down the street at 6 times the safe speed, killing small animals and making ear-splitting fart noises all the way!

    That say "Amurika" to me!

    Don't let millionaires steal Social Security.
    I said, "Don't let millionaires steal Social Security!"

    by Leo in NJ on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 12:22:17 PM PST

  •  I agree, but don't think it will happen. (0+ / 0-)

    I live out here in the heart of the west, where people are few and distances are vast. That's the essence of America's car culture, and the fact is all America is vast. It's a 3 day drive across this country in any direction from top to bottom, shore to shore.

    We are, and have always been, a restless people. The car enables us to pack up and split for brighter horizons at any time, anywhere, and is our great enabler for the best and worst part of all of us equally.

    Personally, I have no good way of going anywhere except around town without the need of my automobile. We have an airport here, with even a few direct connections to some large cities, but except for that few, a flight always means I will fly to Chicago before I reach my Seattle destination, or some other nonsensical big loopy trip on a cattle car with wings attached to it.

    And even worse, the Greyhound don't go there anymore, wherever that anymore may be. So for me, it's the car.

    The only thing that is ever going to modify our need and love of the car will be fuel prices, and even if fuel goes sky-high, we won't quit driving. Mass transit will only become popular when our society, culture, cities, and everything in them comes to realize and change all the things the car has created in our nation.

    Right many are called, and damn few are chosen.

    by Idaho07 on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 03:06:03 PM PST

  •  I don't see a contradiction (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Once upon a time, railroads drove this nation toward expansion of both land and enterprise. We still love trains but they were taken away from us...along with trolleys.

    I think there is room for both..."our engines" could easily include those of a locomotive (high speed, especially!)

    Show me a city with great public transportation and I'll show you a city with a competitive advantage. Show me a city with great public transportation that include trolleys and I'll show you one that everyone wants to live in. I say that from St. Louis. No one wants to live here anymore and yet in the days that we had trolleys our city was bigger and more important than Chicago. These things don't change.

    But back to the commercial...when people around me (even liberals) poo poo'd the auto bailout I would simply say: "We lost Buick and Pontiac. Do you REALLY want to lose Cadillac? Seriously?" Most of them hadn't though of it that way.

    We have invented and popularized so many things that then got taken over by other countries. Do we REALLY want the car to go the same way? And why the hell are we a third world nation when it comes to rail??

  •  Nature doesn't care (0+ / 0-)

    The US has constructed a society where car ownership is essential for many people's daily lives.

    Nature doesn’t care.

    Cars are such an integral part of life in the US that without them, the economy would collapse.

    Nature doesn’t care.

    The power and speed of cars (outside of traffic jams) gives them a powerful emotional hold on many Americans.

    Nature doesn’t care.

    The fact that Americans have been carefully indoctrinated to view cars as icons of status and sexuality gives automobiles immense psychological significance.

    Nature doesn’t care.

    The fact that automobiles, and their related infrastructure, consume massive amounts of unrenewable resources and spew massive amounts of greenhouse gases and other pollutants into the environment—well, Nature does care about that.

    Reminisce about the roar of those engines when Nature calls in the unpayable debts we’ve accumulated, in our long addiction to the unsustainable.

  •  Mary, you're right, but... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    brae70 a lifelong Detroiter, can't we have our cars, too? Can my city, my region, have just one thing to be proud of?

    We ARE a car people. This doesn't mean that our cars have to be gas hogs or oil burners at all. My next car will be a hybrid. I hope the one after that can be electric or solar or run on french fry grease. But the family car, the individual ability to get from place to place on your own schedule, is now a part of our psyche. Not to mention the fact that all of our infrastructure supports this mode of transport.

    Don't get me wrong. I understand the need for public transport. I live in Japan now and I dig taking the shinkansen. Last weekend I went to Tokyo and back from Shizuoka prefecture taking nothing but local trains. It's a good way to go, and it would be a lovely alternative for places like the coastal cities as everyday transport, as well as having long-distance cross-country high-speed lines as an alternative to flying. I'd love to bring back the days where long-distance travel by rail isn't fifth or sixth choice on the depth chart.

    But even here, I see the need for personal transport. I live in the boonies in Japan. There are no buses and one train line out of town (which is very expensive). My wife and I have a micro van with a 660cc engine that gets 60 mpg and is just big enough for a futon in the back. We love to take little trips and camp out in the back. Saves a bundle on hotels. And it gives us the freedom to make our own schedule.

    I guess my point is that we can, and should, have both. I'd love to see high-speed trains being built in America, right alongside the auto factories. I hope Detroit will always be the Motor City. Trains and buses are awesome. But we are what the commercial said we were- a country whose psyche is melded with the roar of an engine (or, hopefully, the hum of a battery). Frontier spirit. Whatever. Without my car, I'd be lost. And I'm happy to admit that.

    •  I never meant to imply (0+ / 0-)

      that we should all abandon cars. That's neither viable nor feasible. I believe cars should be part of how we get around, in addition to good public transportation in and between urban areas.

      "The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die." --Edward M. Kennedy ♦ Worley Dervish on Facebook

      by MaryRW on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 07:22:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Understood (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I understand that this isn't what you meant to imply. I was just trying to drive home (pun pun pun) the idea that the "this is who we are" was not hyperbole or wishful thinking on the part of Chrysler- they were 100% correct, especially for Detroit and the Midwest.

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