Charge with Electricity, Not Politics

A few weeks ago, Newt Gingrich drew cheers from a conservative crowd when he said, “You can’t put a gun rack on a Volt.”

The Chevrolet plug-in hybrid car, which Gingrich derided as “experimental” and an “Obama car,” was released in 2010 in the wake of General Motors’s government-led bail-out and has been heralded as an indicator of GM’s new approach after years of rigidity and competitive complacency.

As many YouTube users have shown, you can, in fact, put a gun rack on a Volt.

“But the real question is, why would you? Seriously, when is the last time you saw a gun rack in any sedan?” GM spokesman, Selim Bingol, poignantly asked in response to Gingrich’s quips.

It’s a valid question.

But aside from being objectively wrong, Gingrich’s statement disturbingly highlights just how out of touch the former speaker is with Michigan and the middle American values the state famously represents. Yes, the Volt sells at a pricy $40,000, but its production in Detroit employs Americans on American soil and signals GM’s innovative new approach to the auto market. It is a strategy based not on simply resting on the laurels of its own former dominance, but rather one based on prudent and sometimes painful cost-cutting, combined with innovative solutions and refreshing design.

When Gingrich belittles the Volt, he is making fun of the very American innovation and ingenuity that he claims his presidency will promote. No, the Volt isn’t the perfect solution to GM’s future. Neither is it the fix-all car that will usher in a utopian future of green living. But it’s a step in the right direction on both of these fronts. The Volt is a small part of the solution to big problems.

GM’s record of growth and change since the summer of 2009 should be applauded and encouraged rather than chastised. The auto bailout cost taxpayers only $14 billion dollars, far less than the collapse of GM and Chrysler would have, not to mention the secondary supply-side crash that would have followed. It prevented a chain reaction that the Big 3 say would have resulted in 3 million layoffs across the economy. The company has forged a new path character-ized by fresh designs and coveted products, resulting in the hiring of American workers and for the first time in a long time, black ink.

The Volt was created to be a step forward. Political leaders should recognize it as such and not ridicule the efforts of American business, manufacturing and innovation. Americans can-not be expected to hold hope for their own futures when every attempt to reach for it is put down, rejected or politicized by their so-called leaders. Faced with financial difficulties and an ever-increasing demand for eco-friendly vehicles, GM came up with some solutions. It’s time our political leaders did the same, and stopped tearing down anyone else bold enough to try.

Contact James Borune at [email protected].