The subheading of the Oregonian's America Speaks on Iraq editorial says it all: In Congress and on the streets, Americans say it's time to leave, but will the president heed the message?
I guess the Oregonian sees the old Byzantine blues vs. greens sort of government as pretty powerful stuff. A very small part of the population out in the streets should direct policy.
The funny thing, of course, is the protest hasn't even taken place. But, apparently the mere prospect is enough for the Oregonian.
Unfortunately, this president shows little willingness to reverse direction in this way. That's why the Senate and, before it, the House of Representatives have engaged in such spirited debate about whether and how to force a change of course upon him. And that's why thousands of people will march against the war in the streets of Portland and other cities this weekend, close to the fourth anniversary of the initial military attack on Iraq.
These are important expressions of the American will, and the president would be well-advised to heed them. Yet ultimately he and his Cabinet -- not the Senate, not the House and not the protesters -- are responsible for the military's course of action.
Government by protest. Let's see. How many people voted in the last presidential election? About 120 million nationally, about 1.8 million in Oregon, and about 360,000 in Multnomah County.
It is possible for protest in the streets to express public will. But, that usually happens in dictatorships where the ballot box is basically meaningless. The next real expression of "American will" comes in the 2008 presidential election--at the ballot box. That's where not a small fraction, but a plurality or a majority of American voters will truly express the "American will" on this and other pressing issues.
Let's get over looking at red vs. green factions in the streets as something more than they really are--an expression of that group's opinion.