I live in the city of Chicago, a locale that currently claims the dubious distinction of the highest priced gasoline in the United States. CBS reported this morning that citizens of the Windy City are paying an average of $4.56 for a gallon of regular unleaded. Over the weekend, I saw a humorous post making the rounds on Facebook. It read, “Wine now cheaper than gas. Drink. Don’t drive.”
The Republican Party, particularly its tepid field of Presidential candidates, is having a field day laying blame for rising prices at the pump at the President’s door. ABC News quoted presumed front-runner Mitt Romney, who offered the following assessment of the situation: “Now I have some suggestions for [Obama]. Maybe it’s related to the fact that you stopped drilling in the Gulf. Maybe it’s related to the fact, Mr. President, that you weren’t out drilling in ANWR. Maybe it’s related to the fact that you said we couldn’t get a pipeline in from Canada known as Keystone. Those things affect gasoline prices, long-term.”
Ah yes, a failure to drill. This response from GOP standard bearers isn’t predictable at all, is it? The gouging of Americans at the gas station has nothing to do with OPEC policy, the exponentially rising demand for fuel in China and India, or the vague threat of war constantly looming over the Middle East. The jarring jump in the cost of gasoline is owing to nothing more (surprise!) than the POTUS’s unwillingness to turn over all available lands and water to the gleeful plundering of the nation’s oil companies. Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?
And as usual, the right is attempting to have it both ways. While astronomical charges line the pockets of Big Oil executives, they use the situation to foster the illusion that Obama is sandbagging the American people in their quest to drive to work without filing for bankruptcy. I have never been happier to be off the car ownership grid.
As Jerry McGuire said, “We live in a cynical world,” but the present-day Republican party has no boundaries at all. There is no longer an issue left which they will not deceitfully manipulate in order to reap maximum benefits for themselves and their cronies. The number of hot button issues on which the GOP willfully smirks at being on the wrong side of is staggering. Do they really think this is funny? Battles that have already been fought over health care reform and women’s reproductive rights must be argued anew within the justice system and the court of public opinion. The tragic case of Trayvon Martin has cast a much-needed spotlight on the extreme application of the Second Amendment. These are just a couple of examples.
The part that sets a liberal’s teeth on edge is the conviction, difficult to prove, that none of these arguments, including the latest about the genesis of rising gas prices, stem from genuine ideological disagreement. The GOP knows climate change is real, rather than the hokum of conspiracy theorists. They are more than aware that playing Russian roulette with women’s health is a not a facet of the right-to-life debate but instead a concerted effort to marginalize and control the masses. And they damn well know that nothing short of an energy revolution, a movement away from dependency on oil, can affect the long-term pricing of gasoline. It’s basic supply and demand economics.
But it’s not in Republican interests to debate these structural problems in a real way. There’s too much money to be made, too much power to be co-opted. But what happens when the proverbial turnip runs out of blood?