Tuesday, September 11, 2007


"No one wants to call [Petraeus] a liar on national TV," noted one Democratic senator, who spoke on the condition on anonymity. "The expectation is that the outside groups will do this for us."

(This is a great D.C. Profile in Courage moment: An anonymous senator, quoted about a supposedly "independent" outside groups that will have to deliver tough shots that Democrats won't take publicly about an increasingly unpopular war.)

David Postman. "Postman on Politics: Is this David Petreaus' war?" The Seattle Times, 10 September 2007
Being something of a cynic, and a tired one at that, I commonly chalk up the lack of political backbone in the United States not the fact that everyone in government is a member of the club, but to the fact that we as the public don't reward honesty and candor, even when we say the stakes are high. If Mister Postman's anonymous Senator thought that calling Petraeus "a liar on national TV" would help him in the polls, you couldn't have stopped him with wild horses - at least, so goes my reasoning. But I think that honesty and candor are laudable traits and should be rewarded - so why don't I write letters to legislators, praising them when they do well, and castigating them when they do poorly? Or just to let them know what I, as a constituent and a voter, expect them to do for me this week? Of course, I realize that my writing a letter isn't going to change anything. But ten thousand, or a hundred thousand, or a million letters probably would.

It's because I allowed myself to think of myself as being the only voice in the wilderness, rather than potentially being the straw that broke the camel's back. If there is going to be a revolution within politics, we're going to have to drive it, from the bottom up, and that means participation - not because we think that we're going to do something as individuals, but because we're tired of being one of the people that allowed the triumph of evil through our own inaction. Politicians aren't hatched from eggs - they're members of the public, like us. So political courage must come FROM us, and not be something that we expect someone to exhibit FOR us.

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