Again, as Farce: 2013 Events Mirror 1980

The economy is in shambles, but the president tells us to bear with him, to lower our expectations. Our relationship with Russia is worse than ever, and in the Middle East we fear rebellion by Islamic radicals.

It is not 2013, but 1980, and Ronald Reagan is running for president.

A foreign power threatens to declare a resource war, denying us access to strategic and critical minerals vital to national defense, the economy, and environmental technologies. Vast areas of the United States -- federal lands owned by the American people -- are off-limits to energy development despite containing untold amounts of oil and gas resources. Coal, our most abundant energy resource, is under attack by an out-of-control federal agency; as a result, coal mines in Appalachia are shutting down. Out West, elected officials are livid about their treatment by Washington. A Sagebrush Rebellion is brewing.

Environmentalists appear in control of federal decision-making. When they do not get their way, they file federal lawsuits to stop projects and kill jobs. In the beginning, the primary concern of the conservation movement was about mankind’s needs, whether for food and water or for the spiritual, emotional, and psychological nourishment derived from experiencing God’s creation in its natural state. Today, environmentalists care nothing about human need. They say mankind is at war with the planet, and his faith in technological solutions is infantile. Environmental groups are an arm of the Democratic Party, endorsing only its candidates. Eventually, the media chooses sides, accepting the claims of environmental extremists, the need for big government, and the inevitability of less personal freedom.

Reagan intended not only to transcend the Soviet Union (“We win and they lose”), he also intended to transcend what he called “modern-day Luddites” or “environmental extremists.” Reagan believed that he had to do so, because environmental extremists opposed his plans to transcend the Soviet Union. Reagan saw the issues -- energy, the economy, and foreign policy -- as being interrelated. He could not restore the economy without developing domestic energy, nor could he remove the threats posed by the Middle East and the Soviet Union unless he strengthened the United States economy. That would take oil, gas, and minerals. Reagan knew exactly where to get all that: from the third of the country and the billion acres of the outer continental shelf (OCS) owned by the federal government.