This quote from Fred Kaplan’s Slate article has left me gobsmacked:
At the same time, nearly all politicians, including most Democrats, have come out against a total withdrawal and have recognized that we will have some military presence in Iraq for a long time to come.
Hold that thought, because I want to remind you of some polling data I discussed a couple of weeks ago:
From Strategic Vision, a Republican polling firm:
4. Do you favor a withdrawal of all United States military from Iraq within the next six months? (Republicans Only)
Not beginning a withdrawal in six months if Iraq becomes more stable, a brigade of magical unicorns shows up, and so forth. Iowa Republicans want us out in six months.
If we assume that higher percentages of independents and Democrats (particularly Democrats) would agree with that statement–especially if by “out”, one means at most a couple thousand troops not in harm’s way–the dissonance between the governing elites along with their hangers-on (whether we call them the Very Serious People, the Mandarin Class, or the Potomac Punditocracy) and an overwhelming majority of the American public is staggering.
Think of it this way: other than a handful of congressmen and Sen. Bernie Sanders, there are no politicians who are in basic agreement with a large majority of the public. Even if you personally think the majority is wrong, the idea that the public has virtually no political outlets should be frightening. And if Kaplan is correct, and the Very Serious People aren’t considering near-complete withdraw over the next six months at all, there is a gaping chasm between those who govern and the governed.
More troubling than the current dysfunction (and the consequences of that dysfunction are horrific–lots of dead people) is what this gap can ultimately lead to: tyranny in one form or another. While El Jefe Maximo and his minions, through their ‘theory’ of the unitary executive, have done considerable damage to civil liberties in this country, for me, the absence of any political avenues for the majority of the American public to express their views is far more frightening. Historically, this has been one of the ways authoritarian governments have come to power: by filling a political void.
If you think I’m overstating the case, one can already see signs of political desperation. Democratic voters are projecting views about Iraq onto candidates that are wildly out-of-synch with what the candidates actually support. That is not a sign of stupidity, but desperation.
This is one problem I do not have a clue about how to fix.
Related post: Tristero gives us a blow-by-blow description of just how out-of-touch the Mandarin class truly is.