One of then-GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann's most eyebrow-raising moments (and she's had a few the last year) came when she pledged she would roll back the price of a gallon a gas to $2. That was in August. Bachmann, who has since dropped out of the running for the GOP nomination, noted that gas was $1.79 per gallon on the day President Barack Obama took office.
To call her promisorial prediction silly would be kind. But she knew what she was doing, at least in the sense that she was aware how important the price of gas is to every vehicle owner in this country. Her only risk was not being taken seriously, but she's never let that stop her.
Fast forward nearly five months, and how often have we heard the candidates discuss gas prices since then? Not enough. Of course, foreign policy and the proposed $7 billion Keystone pipeline project are interlinked with energy independence and gasoline prices - and those two issues have been debated by the remaining candidates - but still, we don't hear Republicans really sympathizing with the American people on what we believe is our bottom line here: what we pay at the pump every time we pull in to a gas station. Generalizing the subject is too easy and the candidates are getting away with it.
The price of gas should be a hot topic, if for no other reason than it is so all-encompassing. No other issue affects the American public more on a day-to-day basis than how much gasoline costs. Paying more at the pump leaves us with less for other things, yet we have no choice - for commuters, Point A and Point B aren't getting any closer. Plus, it's controversial, and controversial issues, especially those that affect such a wide swath of the American public, shouldn't fade from the spotlight.
We don't need idealistic promises made by presidential hopefuls, we need to know what these candidates will do to try to get gas prices to drop in the future. And if they don't think gas will ever dip below $2 again, then tell us. And then provide us with some answers that will quell our fears about $4 gas in the future.
Don't tell us that we need to lessen our dependence on foreign oil - we already know that. Don't tell us to buy a more fuel-efficient car - most of us can't afford one. Don't blame Obama's policies and say gasoline prices are a direct result of them like Newt Gingrich did recently - gas prices in 2011 were nearly as high as they were under President George W. Bush four years ago.
Tell us you will do everything in your power to keep prices down. Tell us this really matters to you.
Republicans from Bachmann to Palin have blamed Obama for high gas prices; we suppose that's debatable, everything is, but pointing your political finger across the aisle doesn't solve our problems. Maybe politicians think it makes them look good, but it does little for the people who helped put them in office in the first place.
We won't find out until after the presidential election what the fate of the pipeline will be; until then, gas prices will remain volatile and our frustration over not knowing how high they can really get will grow. Please, candidates, stop side stepping and patronizing and tell us something we can believe in.