Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Where are the needed courage, vision, independence and sacrifice among today's politicians?

Everyone in the U.S. Congress heaved a big sigh of relief when both Senate Majority Leader Reid, and President Obama announced a pause in the process to take a vote authorizing a military strike against Syria, in response to the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons that reportedly killed between 500 and 1400 Syrians including some 400 children.
None of the members really of either house, with a few notable exceptions, wanted to be 'on the record' with a vote of "yes" or "no" or even "abstain".
They all know that such a vote would become part of their permanent record, available for all to see, come time for the next election and they also know that in most constituencies, up to 95% of the electorate is opposed to such a decision by the U.S. Congress.
However, weren't these people elected to make difficult decisions, in the face of complex arguments, in extremely complex dynamics which no one could have predicted prior to their election, and cannot even now?
Is it no longer to be expected that political leaders will express the courage of their convictions even when they might face political turbulence at the next election. Have we fallen so far that the primary purpose of an elected politician is to do anything and everything necessary to assure him or her of re-election, and the country's interests come a distant second to that purpose?
Hiding behind the president's "pause" will not keep them 'in hiding' permanently. Eventually, no matter what kind of progress Putin and Lavrov make with Assad, with respect to the containment and eventual destruction of Syria's stockpiled chemical weapons, the U.S. Congress will likely be asked for a resolution authorizing military action, especially since Russia is unalterably opposed to the inclusion of a Chapter 7 clause authorizing military action in the Security Council, should Assad fail to keep the commitments on which the world is counting today and for the next several weeks, months and even years.
Arizona Senator John McCain, with whom I almost exclusively disagree, did today make considerable sense in speaking with Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe on MSNBC, when he said that the U.S. should today ask the Security Council to pass a resolution calling for United Nations inspectors to enter Syria, to impound those chemical weapons and to begin the process of removing them from the country. While the tactics of such a mission would be incredibly difficult in the midst of a civil war, giving no cover to the white SUV's and the blue berets of the UN officials, the resolution should be sought "while the iron is hot"....and the world's concentrated fixation makes the temperature and the timing "urgent"....
A maverick in his own party, and a rejected presidential candidate, but nevertheless a war prisoner from the VietNam war, McCain really does not have to care if or when or whom he might offend with his comments. He is one of the truly independent members of the Senate. And there are so few that they can be counted on the fingers of only one hand.
  • Party discipline, including party funding, 
  • media scrutiny including the 24-7-365 news cycle which has trumped depth and insight of coverage with superficial broad coverage, much of it a repetition of what we learn from other sources, including the new digital news sources
  • the need to "fit into" the political culture of mediocrity and "not sticking out" in any way
  • the outright disdainment of anyone in the first decade of service in an elected role to take an independent position as a "who do you think you are" target of criticism, based on the premise of "serving one's time" before serving one's country, in a phoney attempt at inculcating "modesty" and "humility" among members
  • respecting the convention that being invited to rise, being invited to participate, being invited to 'the ball' if you like, by party hierarchy, and not doing end runs around those senior people
these are all factors in the dumbing down of the elected representatives of the U.S. Congress, and we might add, of other governments, such as the Canadian, ruled by the harshest of big thumbs, Stephen Harper, in a similar manner.
We need independent thought, courageous men and women, moderate ideologues who are not so enmeshed with their position on the political spectrum that they cannot see or agree with an opposing view and its advocate, and need people who can see and seek the highest vision of the country's potential, not merely the potential length of their "eating at the public trough" careers in government...and we get precisely the latter.
And the country will continue to suffer the ignominy of its own obsequiousness to both established power and established money....and its blindness to its own slavery.

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