Posted tagged ‘idealism’

Reality bites…Democracy Wins

March 20, 2010

Good news! Despite unprecedented political rankling, America still stands…perhaps evermore indebted but an intact society.

A majority must be on board…or the very fabric of society is at risk. Fringe elements or the disenfranchised represent warning shots that something is askew.

Many issues that divide our nation are reflected in party politics. Some issues become so divisive that the ability to govern at the national level is limited. The Vietnam War was so divisive that this nation is yet to recover. Iraq and Afghanistan were bubbling to epic proportions. Yet, resistance to the increasing involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan has subsided.

Under the Bush administration, Democrats were loathe to support additional funding or commitment of troops for Iraq and Afghanistan. But when in power, circumstances change for the parties. Has the reality of governing overcome the idealism of campaigning?

Decreased resistance to the war in Afghanistan is a direct result of a change in party leadership in Washington. Isn’t it interesting to see that the once divisive Bush administration anti-terror policies that included warrantless wiretaps, rendition and detention without trial and military tribunals are now a part of the Obama administration lexicon.

I often marvel at the change in power and the subsequent change in policies. While the democratic process is often messy and it alienates a large audience, it does bring forward a national debate that illuminates those toughest of issues. This process is critical to the survival of the very fabric of our society.

When I left office at the Defense Department, we had accomplished a thorough review of Afghanistan and Pakistan with some very comprehensive recommendations, if I say so myself. The results of the review were not implemented but were prepared for the new administration as a point of departure. In hindsight, this was a very wise decision by the previous administration.

Because this nation was embroiled in a heated debate of the efficacy of spending national blood and treasure in far-off lands, it was important for the new administration to take its place in the leadership role. And now with the weight of the White House committed to the war in Afghanistan, America is committed. That is great news for our troops and a huge step from an isolationist approach.

America derives its greatness from the willingness to display it’s messy and sometimes embarrassing kitchen table discussions. National consensus is gained through debate and transparency. America is well served by the transition of power. People are challenged daily and reminded that freedom is fragile and the only way a democracy survives is by the participation of its citizens.

For all its inefficiencies, the democratic process accomplishes its objective. But citizens must move from being spectators to active participants. By all accounts, that’s the way the founding fathers envisioned the process. When properly exercised, vision and acceptance will lead to cohesion in the society.

Yes, reality bites but America is well served by its democratic system. The transition from ideology to governance requires debate understanding and resolve. But in the end, the people win when the fabric of our society is secure. So, enjoy the messiness, celebrate the wisdom of our founding fathers, embrace the change of power and be proud of democracy.

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