April 3, 2007
Living-Room WarriorsBy Kyle-Anne Shiver
My brother is a political science professor who has often ruminated on the notion of a truly pure democracy, wherein each citizen gets to actually vote on every single government decision. He tried to run his family on this notion, with frequently disastrous results. Nevertheless, he didn't seem to grasp the sheer un-workability of the paradigm, and continued to insist that every family member have an equal say in every decision.
When I was finally forced, as a guest in his home, to listen quietly for 35 minutes to my 9-year-old nephew's discourse on why they should buy an all-terrain-vehicle instead of a station wagon as the new family car, I made a mental note never to send any of our own children to my brother's university. Little did I know then, however, that one day I would wake up to discover that we were not only running the Country, but indeed fighting a war, using the same wacky idea.
Since America represents way-too-big of a family for that intimate-meeting format, some very enterprising folks started polling companies. They compose questions that articulate for us - the electorate -- every nitty-gritty issue of our day and employ those utterly (UN-)reliable statistical methods we all studied in school, and lo-and-behold: 100% pure, undiluted, every-person-gets-a-vote-on-everything democracy. Pure idiocy.
Now don't get me wrong; I am an ardent supporter of the democratic ideal. In fact, I would definitely rally behind local polls that asked questions like: "Do you favor changing the garbage pick-up from Tuesdays to Thursdays?" or "Do you favor repealing the local pick-up laws for canines' excrement?" You know, simple "yes" or "no" questions of the kind that don't involve our national security or make a huge dent in the budget. Simple vote by every citizen; majority rules. Fine by me.
On the other hand, I get very queasy when I consider the fact that we are urged by our media and the Democrats to fight the Iraq War using newspaper/television opinion polls for decision making. The entire citizenry has been turned by statistical magic into a vast legion of Living-Room Warriors, with less information about how to actually win an armed conflict than my 9-year-old nephew had about practical automobiles. I don't know about you, but I am not at all comfortable with the notion that the lady who served me a hamburger today at Wendy's possesses enough military/national- security/Iraqi-Insurgency/Sunni-Shiite/IED/Al Qaeda INTEL to really make a wise decision on the matters concerning the conduct of this war. I know I don't.
So, if one of those pollsters ever calls me (I'm actually beginning to wonder if they ever do really call anyone, because I don't know a single person who has ever been polled in this fashion.) - if I ever do get called - I'm going to answer, "I don't know," to every question pertaining to the Iraq War. And as my grown children will tell you, I rarely admit to knowing too little to state an opinion about anything whatsoever.
But fighting a war is definitely one thing that I know absolutely nothing about, and I'm betting that the vast majority of the folks answering those poll questions about the war don't really have any more hard INTEL than I do. As a matter of fact, I would unflinchingly presume that a great many more citizens know a great deal more about the current contestants on American Idol than they know about the historical Sunni/Shiite Muslim conflict. Bearing that in mind, I have no qualms about the Idol vote being taken among the watchers in their living rooms. But I have very strenuous objections to those same people becoming Living-Room Warriors, who pass their soft INTEL to media elites, who in turn don General's stars, and start issuing the "people's" orders on what to do about the Iraq War. It is only a matter of degree before we start seeing the following:eliteso r the local leash
Living-Room Warrior Poll for Any Given Week
Should we send more troops next Tuesday? How many more, m'aam? Two, a thousand, one hundred thousand? Should we bring all the troops home next weekend? By March 2008? By the head General's next birthday?
Would serving grits for breakfast at GITMO be considered torture? In your opinion, is psychological torture real or imagined, m'aam? Would being forced to listen to 24/7 rap "music" be considered psychological or physical torture? Should we give the prisoners flannel sheets or go with Egyptian cotton? Should every prisoner be given a hand-held GPS so he knows he is facing Mecca every time he prays? Or could we just mark the right direction on their cell walls?
Do you think setting up that armed perimeter around Baghdad next Wednesday is a good idea, or should we table it? Or wait until Thursday to see if the sandstorm lets up? Is the surge a good idea? Or do you think we could just talk the whole thing out?
Should we give our soldiers Evian or Fiji water in their canteens? Should we shoot first and ask for IDs later, or the other way around? Which is better suited to the rules of engagement under the Geneva Convention?
Should the Editor of the New York Times be tried for Treason now or after the troops come home and we declare America unconditionally defeated? Do you support the death penalty for traitors in wartime?
Am I the only American citizen who is appalled by this method of conducting a war? The media takes the polls, passes the information to the Congress. The Congress spends a whole lot of time -- which amounts to a whole lot of our money -- publicly discussing their interpretations of the polling data in an effort to gauge public opinion, then acts on this hard INTEL by passing legislation that reflects last Friday night's public opinion on the Iraq War. This is pure lunacy. It is an insult to anyone with even a modicum of common sense. Thank goodness we do not have a President who is playing this dangerous game with our nation's security.
If this were 1776, this Congress would be in danger of the tar-and-feather brand of American displeasure for using our battlefield troops as pawns in their childish game of mere politics and public posturing. This is not a photo-op for Nancy Pelosi and her grandchildren. Nor is it a bar-hopping night for Ted Kennedy. This isn't American Idol and it most assuredly is not a sing-along happening with Joan Baez. This is WAR! Our real sons and daughters are gallantly shedding their blood in a National effort to prevent even greater atrocities than 9/11, and our Congress is behaving like this is an interactive video game without genuine consequences. A presumed "Culture of Corruption", however deep, is far, far better than a Culture of Cowardice when it comes to protecting our children from maniacs who see them as nothing but fodder for their senseless Jihad. And anyone who cannot make that distinction should be home baking cookies and watching American Idol - not running the Country.
Anyone who thinks that World War II was fought (and won) in this fashion has never read a history book. The last time Congress used its power of the purse in this fashion was when they cut off the funds to sustain a hard-won peace in Vietnam, throwing the whole Country back to the Communists, who then proceeded to murder a million innocent people. That Democrat-led Congress turned a valiant military victory - that cost more than 50,000 brave soldiers' lives -- into an American humiliation that many argue is the psychological foundation for the audacity of our enemies today.
So, Democrats, before you sell us out based on the hard INTEL gathered from Living-Room Warriors, please do think long and hard about our precious children - the ones on the battlefield now - and our grandchildren, because they are the ones who will pay the ultimate price for your incredible stupidity and cowardice.