Politics

Democrats blaming high gas prices on Trump is stupid and self-defeating

Buttons on a gas pump
Image credit: Upupa4me via Flickr/Creative Commons

Last week, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer hosted a press conference blaming high gas prices on Republican President Donald Trump.

Earlier this week, Connecticut’s Richard Blumenthal did the same at a Shell station in Hartford. Per CTNewsJunkie.com:

“[There are] clear steps that the President of the United States can take [to reduce gas prices],” Blumenthal said.
He said Trump can put pressure on pressure OPEC members to increase supplies. He could also use his relationship with Saudi Arabia to get them to release more crude oil.

Look familiar? It should:

This is a stupid, self-defeating line of attack.

First, it reads as shallow partisan finger-pointing. (Because it is.) The President can’t control gas prices. Furthering this as a viable argument against any President’s economic policy contributes to the very dumbing down of politics that got us Trump in the first place.

Second, if Democrats want to take themselves seriously as the party that gives a shit about the environment, then they need to start moving public consensus toward understanding that high gas prices are acceptable. Hell, they may even be a good thing! We need to stop using so much oil; that won’t happen as long as it’s economically viable not to.

It’s true that the poor and middle class are disproportionately burdened by high gas prices — but the same is true of everything. Gas prices are only so potent an issue because Americans rely so heavily on personal gasoline-powered automobiles. Lots of people live in places where you can’t buy a newspaper or a gallon of milk without driving to the store.

A better way to address rising gas prices than attacking the President would be to say: “Gas prices are rising, and in the long term they will continue to rise. We will do what we can to soften the blow for now, but we need to start building public infrastructure that is less reliant on oil. We need public infrastructure that’s better for the environment. We need infrastructure that lets workers sleep soundly whatever the price of a gallon will be in the morning, and that reduces volatility in consumer markets. These are things we can do a lot better than guarantee the eternal affordability of an increasingly scarce global commodity.”

It’s difficult, and it might not work, but it’s a lot better than visiting whatever gas station is closest to your office and gesturing pathetically at the pump.