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Retired auto exec challenges Dems to reclaim small-town values

Retired Ford executive Bob Terrell was reminded of his childhood while working with a U.S. soldier returning from Afghanistan struggling to get back on his feet.

“In 2001, we sent our young men and women to war to die and be wounded and maimed, and here at home 98 percent of us have gone on our way without much regard to what’s happening to those families of those troops. We’ve gone our way with greed and corruption. No-bid contracts. Hundreds of billions of dollars wasted in Iraq that no one can account for. Here we are grappling in Washington over all these little issues, and people in our country are carrying an enormous burden,” said Terrell, a first-time author at 77 with the release of Have We Lost Our Common Sense?

A small-town Kentucky native, Terrell, a military veteran who was an executive at Ford for 30 years, thinks Democrats need to stand up and reclaim the traditional small-town, common-sense values that the party was based on. Republicans have cornered the market on small-town, common-sense values of late, but to Terrell what the GOP presents as small-town and common-sense is a mirage.

“Some of the people that claim to be the biggest patriots are the ones that say no to the emergency workers in New York, say no on health care, and they’re the ones that constantly stand up for the wealthy, powerful people in this country,” Terrell said.

The gap between the wealthy and the working class has widened considerably since the Reagan tax cuts of the early 1980s. Terrell recalls getting lectured on the dangers of income disparity in the late 1980s while talking shop with friends in the Japanese auto industry.

“They said they kept an eye on the gap between what executives are making and what people on the assembly line were making,” Terrell said. “You have to make sure to protect the middle class, because that’s your base of consumers.”

It’s not all bad Republicans – Terrell is also critical of Democrats for pushing a complicated health-care reform that few congressmen took the time to read before signing on and most of us still don’t understand months after its passage.

“Most often, simple and direct common-sense ways of doing things are better than long, drawnout and complex methods that nobody understands,” Terrell said.

Terrell hopes his book can serve as a wakeup call to people on both sides of the partisan divide.

“We’ve got a lot of people who are beginning to realize that their hopes and opportunities for the future are shrinking. We’d better wake up,” Terrell said. “We’ve got a great country. It’s worth fighting and standing up for, and it takes teamwork. We can disagree, but we’ve got to find a way to work together.”

Column by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at

augusta free press
augusta free press