The debate over Syria has highlighted perhaps the most dangerous development in our politics since the 20th Century. Not only has the presidency become too powerful, it has become too personal. Our national elections have devolved from debates on the principles of national parties to a glorified pissing contest between two individuals. The resulting problem is that the presidency is now personal, you feel like he (soon to be she?) belongs to you. You bought into all the propaganda, and spit fire at the opposition's propaganda. You have to have his back, no matter what. It doesn't matter what he's asking or what he's doing, by God he's MY president.
How do I know this? Because some years ago, that was me. That was me, on this blog, regurgitating Allen campaign talking points saying that Jim Webb was a pedophile because of what he wrote in his books. Supporting the Iraq War because it was George W. Bush's War, and I voted for him twice. Even while my brother was over there and I couldn't understand why or how I would deal with it if he didn't come back. I promised myself, after Barack Obama was elected, to not be like "them." By "them," I meant the chronic haters of George Bush. I feel like I have only been successful in that to varying degrees.
Fast forward today, and the campaign to bomb Syria puts this problem front and center. If George W. Bush was looking to bomb Syria, the protesters would be a million deep outside the White House. Now, with Nobel Peace laureate Barack Obama looking to bomb Syria, the outrage is muted. Why? Because so many progressives worked so hard not to elect a progressive platform, but to elected Barack Obama. He said he was progressive, and mostly he is. But dammit, its Barack Obama! I worked so hard for him! I HAVE to support him, even if he's advocating something .... something that is quite Bushian.
We are looking to get involved in a civil war between a fascist thud dictator and Islamic extremists (some of whom are al Queda). I get that is beyond a horror that Assad used chemical weapons, but 100,000 people have already been killed. What is it about those deaths that somehow don't warrant intervention while it does now that there have been chemical weapons? Intervention must be based on more than emotion. The unintended consequences of such actions can be at a scale we can't comprehend. This should not be a decision made because you have to support Barack Obama or oppose Barack Obama because it is personal. Our politics has trained us to base our support or opposition on a single person, the president. It should not be that way.
We need a serious conversation about Syria and its pros and cons, not what is best for Barack Obama or the GOP. The President has made a decision based on the interpretation of facts he has and he will now present them to Congress and the American people. He deserves enormous credit for taking a step back and returning some of the responsibility of our foreign policy to the legislative branch of government that is directly elected by the people.