Donnerstag, Februar 08, 2007

War And Popularity

There is a common misperception of the US, not merely abroad, but in the US as well. This sentiment seems to be anchored in wishful thinking, rather than in historical reality or serious political thought that refers to existing law.

The US is not first and foremost a democracy. It never was, never has been, and is not, nor will it in all likelihood become such.

The US is first and foremost a republic.

One of the most amazing and profound collection of political thought is the Federalist Papers. If you want to understand how the US works, and have not read the Federalist Papers, then you do not know how the US works. Period.

Now, I'm not going to go into a long exegesis on the Federalist Papers. You can find them here.

Those who believe in popularity contests can go on believing that the US is first and foremost a democracy, which at the end of the day is nothing more than that.

The Federalist Papers are nothing less than a blueprint of how to think about modern representative government as we know it. They're not perfectly written - they're more than 200 years old at this point, what do you expect? - but their fundamental concerns are exactly the concerns that any serious student of politics needs to consider.

But getting back to the point: popularity contests aren't what the executive branch and the judiciary are all about (Congress, especially the House, more so...), but rather are tasked with running the country.

Which is why all the folks who are soooo concerned about popularity ratings should read this.

Wars in the US have never been about popularity, about getting elected or anything remotely like that. If anything, Presidents who ask permission from Congress to go to war invariably become less and less popular during any of their wars.

War is not about popularity: it is a contest of wills. Bowing to pressure from the street would eviscerate the war making ability of the US.

But then again, that's what those organizing street demonstrations want. Groups like MoveOn and ANSWER are largely hard-core socialist revolutionary groups, and their rage is not the rage of righteous anger, but rather the rage of the dispossesed and failure.

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