Wednesday, September 04, 2013

The Massive Disconnect Between The Voters And The Elected

Among the many things bothering the hell out of me regarding Syria - the real need to focus first on the refugee crisis, the need to stop Assad's use of chemical weapons versus the inability to really do anything about it other than an outright invasion and all the horrors THAT would entail, the realization that the entire Middle East from Egypt to Libya is in total chaos and we're unable as an international power to focus on any of that - is this simple fact:

A vast majority of Americans are polling as opposed to any military strike or action on Syria... and our elected officials (and their friends in the Beltway media) are still poised to vote in favor of it.

Link to Pew Research Center's results:

Also wik:

Yet just right now, the Senate Foreign Relations committee overseeing such issues just voted 10-7 in favor of a "limited military response" to Syria's use of chemical weapons.  There's still a full Senate vote I believe and also a House resolution, but most of the experts believe that both parties may go along with approval (Dems because they have the need to back their party's nominal leader, Republicans because there's a sizable faction of neocon interventionists seeking to "tame" the Middle East through superior firepower).

Usually elected officials are more aware, more alert to the reality that voting whole-heartedly against their constituents' opinions tends to be a bad idea.  They're at least aware of the risks: even during the health care reform debates a good number of Democrats openly worried they would lose seats over passing any reform despite the fact that everybody knew health care costs needed to be controlled somehow.

Yet with the Syrian military strike as an issue, there's this kind of intellectual if not emotional disconnect to what's happening.  None of the politicians seem to be pointing to the poll numbers or worrying about how this plays "back home" with their voters.  If there are any, I'm not seeing them speak up on the news channels or websites.  (If there's at least one, please pass along the link)

Sullivan points it out clearly:

I cannot remember a war in which the public in the most affected countries is so opposed. And that opposition is not likely to melt in a week or so – certainly not if many people listened to John Kerry yesterday. And that poll is about the abstraction of “strikes” – and not about the open-ended war to depose Assad that the administration actually proposed in its own resolution. Mercifully, Americans are not as dumb as many think...

I don't consider the polling about invading Iraq in 2002 to be of relevance here: considering that Congress and the public were lied to about Saddam's having WMDs as an excuse to go in, the general public support for that invasion/occupation is kind of an illusion.

There's been times that the DC "establishment" were not in tune with the nation as a whole: the obsessive hate-on for Clinton (not just the GOP but the media elites and power-brokers operating in DC) that made many voters side with him when the Lewinsky scandal broke is a recent example.  But this time it's troubling.  This time, lives - ours and Syrians - are at stake.  The chaos of the Middle East may well get worse if military action takes place.  And there's no guarantee that the planned missile strikes will do anything productive.

In a situation where diplomacy makes the most sense - the possibility of getting with Russia and Iran, Syria's primary backers, both of whom are troubled by the gas attacks as well - it's terrifying that nobody in DC wants to argue for this as a sensible alternative.

This isn't Munich.  Like Conor points out - "For Hawks, it is always 1938" - there's no Chamberlain-esque appeasement here other than trying to find something that would stop the damn bloodshed:

Every part of that part of that argument is wrong. The war weariness of post-WWI Britain was very different from the war weariness of present day America, and an unwillingness to strike dictators who kill their own people is not the same as appeasement. By Hirsh's logic, it is imperative that we immediately invade North Korea because otherwise we are appeasing it, and inviting it to begin a blitzkrieg across the Western world, because Hitler. The approach he implies -- intervention wherever there is a dictator or a mass murder -- is a recipe for far more war, and far more misery from war.

One of our nation's biggest problems hasn't been the partisan brinkmanship, the incessant noise machine drowning out policy solutions, the sheer amount of money in the electioneering business (seriously, it's in the billions now), it's been the Lack Of Accountability.  We're having one of those Lack Of Accountability moments.  And everyone's failing the moment.

No comments: