Wednesday, August 20, 2008


The Fickle Public

It is depressing to me to realize that volatile public mass opinion drives American Politics. I wish it were different. In an ideal democracy, calm public judgment rather than volatile mass opinion influences policymakers and policy. Not in our nation.

Last year and the year before the big issue was the War in Iraq. Americans were tired of the war and wanted it to end. In 2006 the Democrats won a slender control of Congress on the issue of ending the War. The War is big, expensive, and it is an enterprise of the Bush Administration. It is also a colossal blunder. You'd think it would it would continue to be an important issue to the voting public.

Not so!!! The big issue this year, and apparently the issue that will decide who will be the next President is the price of gasoline. Now the hard truth is that there isn't anything that our powerful federal government can do about the price of gasoline. However, Mr. McCain and the Republican Party has put forth the claim that if the government would only allow drilling for oil in various off-shore and environmentally , sensitive locations, the price of gasoline would drop. Mass opinion, not careful public judgment supports this belief. At the moment a majority of Americans favor more drilling. Rather than face the unpleasant reality and tell the public the truth, both candidates seem to go along with this opinion. Mr. McCain started before Mr. Obama in advocating more drilling and exploration and seems to have an edge on this issue.

I am reminded of a Will Rogers movie in which two candidates for Congress are debating. One candidate promises to reduce taxes. The other candidate, recognizing that his audience consists of drought-stricken farmers, promises rain. Guess who wins the election!

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