I'm not really sure when we turned the job of President of the United States into the job of Man in Charge of the Economy. (And no, it should not be a job description with "man" in the title, but that's how the powers that be like it. It should not be a man in the White House now, and it should not have been a man that won the Democratic nomination in 2008, but none of this is the point of this particular blog entry, so let's focus.) We are obsessed, it would seem, with the economy, and more importantly with the idea that it is the president's job to manage/control/"fix"/be blamed for the economy. I'm curious about this.
I mean, for example, there's the Constitution. That's a good place to check for presidential job duties. In that document, the prez is more of a foreign powers/treaties guy, who should make recommendations to Congress. Obviously, the federal budget and the national economy are great subjects about which to make said recommendations, but that would simply mean hundreds of People in Charge of the Economy, not one.
I'm not saying that this is a new problem. Grover Cleveland, James Buchanan, and Martin Van Buren are just a few of the presidents who were blamed for dire economic circumstances during the 19th century.But why? What happened? When did we decide that one guy (guy, ugh) is in charge of it all? It's not as if he is called the Economist in Chief, even.
I'm also curious about the way the self-styled conservatives, specifically, talk about this right now. Their general discourse seems to be that Mitt Romney is the better candidate to "handle" the economy. (Notice there is no question as to whether it's the president's job to do this.) But I also hear most of these small-government fiscal conservatives talk a lot about individual responsibility. They like to perpetuate the idea that every man (and sometimes, if we're lucky, every woman too) has the same opportunities to make money, start a business (as if all of us want to/are meant to start businesses), go from rags to riches, "build that," be successful, and maybe even get his own reality TV show one day. Personal responsibility, individual responsibility, freedom, liberty, and don't let those commie-liberals get their hands on my money! Responsibility, responsibility, responsibility, that's the rallying cry. Oh, except the economy sucks. So we need someone to fix it for us.This is what I hear them say: We don't want so-called big government to take away our money/guns/freedom or give too many services to anyone else, because we totally believe that we should be individually responsible. But, the president is In Charge of the Economy.
Doesn't that seem a little bit hypocritical?