American Politics: The Ultimate Popularity Contest

This article cites poll after poll almost as if they represented factual references. One gets the impression that impeachment is the political equivalent of getting the gong on the old 70’s TV show, “The Gong Show”.

It’s a pity really. It’s easy to do whatever the polls suggest will be popular. However, I am not convinced that doing what is popular will always be what is right for the nation. I am not at all convinced that the American public is the best reference on what is right for America. Most of the issues facing America are far more complicated than can be explained in a 6 minute news spot, much less a 6 second sound byte. There’s a lot more to leadership than the ability to deliver one’s lines well.

In the years preceding America’s entry to World War II there were accusations that President Roosevelt was lying to in order to get America into that war. The America First Committee offered arguments not unlike those being offered today. After World War II and to this day there are those who claim that Roosevelt and other senior leaders knew that Japan was planning to attack Pearl Harbor. The logic goes that these senior leaders allowed the attack to happen and provided no warning to our military in Hawaii in order to motivate the American public to allow entry into the war in Europe.

Rebuilding Japan and Germany after World War II required several years. American occupation of Japan lasted seven years. When comparing Iraq to Japan or Germany it is important to remember that both Japan and Germany had functioning democratic governments which were subverted. In both cases, reconstruction of the governments was essentially a returning to what had existed before. There were large portions of the population who knew what a free society was. If it took seven years to rebuild Japan, which had a history of a free and democratic society, that suggests that it will require at least seven years to build a similar government in a society where no such history has ever existed.

Iraq has no history of a free and democratic society. Building a free and democratic Iraq will involve long years of hard work. Abandoning Iraq to disintegrate into utter sectarian violence, complete civil war and a return to a Saddam-like political system would be absolutely reprehensible. At this point, regardless of how we got here, we owe it to the Iraqi people to provide security until a sustainable government is in place.


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