Sunday, September 14, 2003

The Great Litmus Test

The Washington Post is calling several Democratic presidential candidates to task for siding with Bush on policies they now eschew (see this article). I am less critical than the Washington Post and my fellow bloggers because Congressional representatives must be keenly aware of public tides and they pay dearly for fighting the tide. As I see it, the blame rests more on the public's visceral reaction to contemporary events than on Congress's responsibility to heed its constituents' viewpoints.

I agree with Dean's statement (although made in reference to the Patriot Act and not the war) that members of Congress should not be attacked for what happened during an "atmosphere of enormous emotion." At the same time, I admire those who vote their conscience in spite of potential backlash (e.g., Feingold on the Patriot Act).

I do not mean to suggest that a Congressperson should not account for their votes. Rather, I simply disagree that the Democrats displayed a "dereliction of duty." If we are to hold anyone's feet to the fire for poor decisionmaking, it should be the American people, not its representatives.

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