On Saturday, February 15, millions of people throughout the world gathered to protest the United States’ seemingly imminent attack on Iraq. Prior to that movement, anti-war activists had been dismissed as radical hippies. I was sure that after this global display against the war, the criticism would stop and the Bush administration would be forced to re-evaluate their position on Iraq.
On Monday, however, I was dismayed when President Bush said something to the effect of, “I don’t make foreign policy based on a bunch of protesters.” At first I was struck with outrage that President Bush could so easily dismiss millions of people, thousands of whom are his own constituents. After I further evaluated the situation, it occurred to me that perhaps President Bush isn’t aware of his accountability to his constituents. It’s an easy enough mistake to make, and that’s what most people think anyway: that government representatives don’t care about their constituents and are only concerned with gaining power. And after all, President Bush is a man like any other, and he is entitled to make mistakes periodically.
I could see why President Bush, especially, would be susceptible to confusion regarding his role as President. First of all, he probably didn’t take more than the two required political science classes in college, and he never studied the Constitution or the Federalist Papers closely. Secondly, President Bush was not elected by his constituents through normal means; the Supreme Court intervened and declared him the President. See, it could be very easy for President Bush to forget his accountability to the American people, 40% of whom currently oppose the United States entering the war without a UN resolution.
I guess 40% of Americans must be hippies. Nonetheless, President Bush is accountable to those hippies. He is required to listen to his constituents, even if he doesn’t like it, even if he doesn’t agree with it. That is what a representative democracy is all about. Since each U.S. citizen cannot possibly vote on every issue, we rely on our representatives to do what we think is right.
Therefore, I encourage all of you who oppose military action in Iraq to come out of the woodwork and speak out about it in any way you can. Do not be stifled by those who dismiss your ideas and call you unpatriotic. Without protest, our country would not exist today in the state we enjoy it. Our government was founded with the idea that there would be dissent. So, go out there to do your patriotic duty and protest!