The American Constitution is a heck of a thing. The power it guards for the power is great. Like this:
“the right of the People to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed”
Regular people get to have guns! What’s more:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The state doesn’t get to mess with the church(es)! Journalists are protected by name, as are lobbyists! Amazing!
When it comes to military power and the use of it, an especially large amount of power is vested in the executive branch. The President is also the commander of the military. This means that when President Bush decides to deploy US forces, he can do so with little conversation with Congress.
When folks cast votes in 2004, I don’t think a great many folks who were concerned by the “homos” getting married in San Francisco were thinking about the lengths Bush would go to extend our involvement in Iraq. With Saddam executed and no WMDs found, even those who never identified with the “anti-war Left” now see the mission as “accomplished.” There is a heavy majority of people in nearly every state who are now against the war and favor bringing home troops with the end of the year.
Do so-called “NASCAR dads” of the ex-urbs now see their votes against gay marriage, stem cell research, and other phantoms as votes that support President Bush’s goals in Iraq? What about Naderites? Is John Kerry still as “pro-war” as they said he was in 2004?
The truth is, elections matter. Congress has a limited role in changing the facts on the ground in Iraq. Presidents get to send more troops; Congress can fund them or not. There is limited appetite by folk like Rep. Adam Smith and others to deny troops the ammo and armor they need should they be deployed. President Bush, being so out of touch with reality, is unlikely to blink should Congress throw down the gauntlet. He’s so far down the rabbit hole, so divorced from what’s happening, I don’t see any rational argument penetrating the White House. Perhaps our best chance to make a big change will come in 2008, when the GOP will hopefully be crushed in the House and Senate. Any GOP nominee for president will be forced to answer for the Bush agenda.
Presidents have power, that’s clear. Elections matter and their consequences are clear.