Journal list

David Carlson: Playing the Blame Game

I’m sure many readers have noticed that TV weather forecasters often seem to be apologetic when predicting bad weather is approaching. Whether there have been days and days of rain, weeks with insufficient rain, or bad weather forecast for an upcoming holiday, weather forecasters often adopt that “I’m so sorry” tone in their voice when they tell us say bad weather is on its way.

I wonder if viewers have actually called the TV stations and complained that their weather forecasters haven’t brought enough good weather lately, as if weather forecasters have some control over the weather.

Maybe the instinct to blame someone for what we don’t like is a human trait. In the Judeo-Christian creation story found in the second chapter of Genesis, Adam blames Eve for disobeying God’s command, and Eve blames the serpent. This suggests that we are a race of blamers.

But blaming seems to be a particular trend among us Americans. This is especially true in the realm of politics, where blaming the other side for anything that is disagreeable with us is a tactic used by both Democrats and Republicans.

Consider the COVID pandemic. Yes, Donald Trump should be held accountable for his response to the pandemic, but he did not cause the pandemic. As anyone who paid attention to the rapid spread of COVID makes clear, the virus was and remains a global crisis. Every nation, not just the United States, has struggled to come to terms with something unexpected and new in world history.

The same goes for the current crises of inflation and high gasoline prices. To listen to some of the recent political ads, Joe Biden is personally responsible for inflation and the higher price of almost everything. But, as the folks at Pew Research noted, “At least one thing is clear: a resurgent inflation rate is by no means a concern just for the United States.” To a greater or lesser extent, every developed nation is suffering from inflation in our post-pandemic world. That’s not to say Biden has to address our nation with the eighth highest inflation rate in recent months.

The current spike in gas prices is another thing Biden has to deal with, but he is not responsible for this uncomfortable reality. While there are many factors behind the rise in gasoline prices, Putin’s war on Ukraine has to top the list. Over the past decades, many European countries have become dependent on Russian oil and gas. One of Putin’s most effective retaliatory measures against European nations that support Ukraine is to cut off or reduce gas and oil from those countries. With this cut, demand increased as supply decreased.

So when you’re at the gas pump and you feel your blood pressure rising with the price of a gallon of gas, keep in mind that Europeans pay almost twice as much as we do.

Instinctively blaming government officials for anything we don’t like is lazy thinking. Blaming our government leaders for everything we cannot control is also not what the founders of our nation had in mind when they instituted our democracy. Our democracy was born in the age of reason, which means that democracy is meant to be not only the rule of the people, but the rule of rational and reasonable people.

What this means as we approach the next election cycle is that we need to pay attention to the rhetoric of candidates, both Republican and Democratic. If those running for office simply blame the opposing party, let’s not be happy. If blame is their only game, let’s send an e-mail and demand, instead of playing this game, that they present their ideas to improve our country.