High Gasoline Prices Affecting Voters?

December 12, 2011

Political Theory


While gas prices have not recently been too outrageous, the price of gasoline has increased significantly over the last decade.  With the economy so terrible, people are much more concerned with where their money is being spent.  Filling up a tank of gas now costs around $50-$60.  Department of Energy (DOE) states that the US consumes 10 million barrels of oil products per day for automobiles alone.  The combination of a heavy reliance on gasoline and rising gas prices places a lot of economic pressure on people.  An example of people being concerned about rising gas prices is provided in the video below…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpNOs3VlEsU

Majority of people in the United States either own or drive a car on a regular basis, so gas prices are constantly under scrutiny.  The smallest rise in price is immediately noticeable when pulling up to a gas station.  It is almost as if gas stations purposely enlarge the prices so people are “shocked” when pulling in.  Here’s a quick glimpse of a high-priced gas station…

You think you pay a lot for gas?

Many political leaders are limited in what they can do to suppress the rise in price, leading to frustration in many.  As much as political figures are responsible for maintaining the economy and the value of the US dollar, gasoline prices fluctuate monthly for a variety of variables.  People tend to immediately blame the President for the outrageous gas prices.  There is no acknowledgement or blame of global events affecting the price of gasoline.  While gasoline prices seem to fluctuate randomly, there are clear global economic factors, like the world crude-oil market, which directly determine the pricing. Society approaches the issue in a close-minded approach and instantly blames the person in charge of everything, the President.  This not only lowers the President’s approval rating, but also affects him for future elections.

President Obama was faced with this issue during his reelection.  None of his actions or decisions may have led to rise in gasoline prices, but the sudden rise reflects badly on the president’s term.  I think this is terrible, especially during a time of reelection.  A democracy requires the public to make conscious logical decisions.  Voters tend to blame the President for rising gas prices and this unfortunately affects them during the voting process.  A voter that may have been on the fence could suddenly decide to vote for another candidate solely because the President was unable to keep the gas prices low.

Is the price of gasoline an issue that takes away from democracy?

Or is it too miniscule to influence people to vote differently?

In my opinion, the proper approach to this issue would be to educate the public specifically about the issue.  The President should give the public a clear and concise explanation of the causes for the high gasoline prices.  The question then becomes would high gas prices subconsciously influence voters?  This question is very difficult to answer, but I believe education would lower the effect gasoline prices have on voter’s behavior.  Educating the public would be fairly simple and would most likely keep people from letting gas prices reflect on the President’s term.  It seems as if every time something goes wrong, people are quick to point a finger at someone.  In terms of a national crisis such as the rise in gasoline prices, people would hopefully be educated enough to realize that gasoline prices depend on a lot more variables than just the President of the United States.

This whole issue reflects on the minor flaws of democracy.  While democracy does give all citizens an equal voice in the way the country is run, there are clearly factors which may inhibit each person from making the “right” decision when it comes to voting.  The “right” decision is one that is uninfluenced by external affairs and solely focuses on the situation at hand.  The whole issue of gasoline prices causing voters to vote differently illustrates an essential characteristic of society democracies must maintain to function, education.  A democracy is based on the public voting with each voter having equal representation.  With this in mind, the government should approach each election process with the mindset that their number one goal is to educate the people so they can make a decision when it comes to the election.

What approach should the government take in educating the public?

Would educating the public take away from solving the issue of rising gasoline prices?

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One Comment on “High Gasoline Prices Affecting Voters?”

  1. cobyj17 Says:

    I disagree with the extent to which you think Americans blame the president for high gas prices. One of the issues that has been stressed in recent elections and by this administration is that we need to become less dependent on foreign oil, and people see this as the cause for high gas prices. Additionally, higher gas prices encourages people to switch to vehicles that are more energy efficient, such as hybrids and electric vehicles, another point of emphasis of the current administration.

    You touch on an important point. While essentially everyone has the right to vote, only some people are actually educated on the issues. This is seen very clearly with the economy. Voters will be much less likely to vote for an incumbent if the economy has been poor, without educating themselves on whether or not the incumbent is actually to blame for the state of the economy.

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