Waiting for Superman
Well, when Michelle Bachmann promises something she really shoots for the moon.
At a town hall meeting in Greenville, S.C., today, Michele Bachmann said if she became president gas prices would fall dramatically.
“Under President Bachmann you will see gasoline come down below $2 per gallon again. That will happen,” Bachmann said, according to The Hill.
There’s no word on whether she added that that the rise of the oceans would begin to slow as well.
Certainly there are things that the federal government could do to help cut gas prices. Lowering gasoline taxes, opening up more areas for drilling and cutting back on regulations might put a dent on gas prices, but these measures would only go so far. Oil is a global commodity. Or, to quote from one of the snarky commenters at NRO, what is she going to, make the Chinese stop consuming oil?
Daniel Foster also helps put her comments into perspective.
The only policies I can think of that would surely accomplish the $2.00 a gallon target are:
1) The seizure by force and nationalized exploitation of a large proportion of the world’s oil supply.
2) The massive federal subsidization of fuel costs.
3) The fomenting of a second global recession as bad as or worse than the last one, complete with negative global GDP growth.
Gas prices could fall below $2 per gallon were Bachmann to get elected, but it would not principally be due to policy measures of the government.
This sort of political messiahnism is an annoying trend in our politics, but it’s doubly depressing coming from a conservative. It’s one thing for a leftist like Barack Obama to promise the sun, the moon, and the stars, but one would not expect such unrealistic promises from someone touting themselves to be a limited government conservative.
Unfortunately this lack of perspective on the office of the presidency and the powers within that office runs both ways. We have candidates who make ridiculous promises, but that’s augmented by a populace with unrealistic expectations of what our government can accomplish. And I think those unrealistic expectations are what turns so many people into cynics, especially come election time. It feeds a seemingly contradictory pair of attitudes about the presidential race.
Since we’re awaiting the rise of some kind of political Messiah, we become jaded when we see a selection of imperfect candidates. No candidate can possibly meet our lofty expectations of what a presidential candidate should be, and that expectation is essentially that the person should almost totally be like us. The slightest variation from our own orthodoxy is a sign of impurity, and as such the candidate is automatically dismissed. It is impossible for a mere mortal to live up to every one our political desires, and so we dismiss the whole lot as undeserving of our attention.
Then, when we discover a political candidate that does meet our high bar, that person gets built up beyond all imagining. We saw this with candidate Obama in 2008, and we saw it in 2008 and again in 2012 with Ron Paul. We’re also seeing traces of this with Sarah Palin. Certainly all candidates have their devoted followings, but a dangerous cult of personality seems to take hold with certain figures. We (and we have all been guilty of this with some candidate, I am sure) have found the person that is going to solve all the country’s woes. Any criticism, however mild, is a form of heresy. This attitude, which is completely opposite the tendency described in the previous paragraph, is just as unhealthy for the body politic.
No candidate or politician is perfect. They all have their warts. Once you realize this then you can stop searching for the perfect candidate and settle for the very good (hopefully). On the other hand, once you realize this hopefully you can be more sensitive to the fact that your preferred candidate is not above reproach. Finally, once we realize that there is no perfect politician, then we can stop building our expectations of what any single individual or group of individuals within the government can accomplish. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t hold their feet to the fire and hold them responsible for their failings, only that it does us no good to pretend that they can wave magic wands and cure all our ills.