A self-governing people would also be capable of governing their own passions according to some kind of determination. Barack Obama’s exit from Iraq was as popular as his re-entry. America is against war in Iraq and then for it with the same non-committal “Um, okay.” The nation was founded by a people who made vows, who would “pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” Now its wars are are on and off like a proposed take-out order: “Chinese or pizza? I mean, whatever you want.”
The pundits who say that President Obama has failed to demonstrate leadership have never considered whether the public is capable of following him, or even their own train of thought. The American public is not even capable of not following him in any recognizable way. We might have been dropping bombs in Syria against Assad to the benefit of ISIS a year ago had it not been for the hearty “No” vote in the British Parliament that denied Obama the fig leaf of multilateralism. A democratic people should be bewildered that their president was urging them to join one side of a civil war a year ago, and now joins them to another. But the American people are as responsive to this stimulus as a cattle herd is to the conclusion of a Dostoyevsky novel.
Among a people that flatter themselves as democratic, nothing is more gauche than the expectation of democratic exercise. To demand as much is to wander dirty in the streets with a sign saying “Wake up, Sheeple!” So, forget I mentioned it. Fifty more years? No way. But, whatever, sure.