Friday, July 15, 2005

Divine Rights 

Krugman's column this morning provides an object lesson for all of us living in democracies, from both sides of the blogosphere: nothing is perfect. Every political party. even your own, is sometimes wrong. Every political leader, even one you revere or love, makes mistakes.
Just because he's the leader of your country doesn't mean that everything he does is right.
We should all repeat this, as a mantra, five times a day. Otherwise, as we indulge in our partisan rants and ravings, its just too easy to fall into the same kind of thoughtless, unprincipled, knee-jerk, hero-worship cult which appears to be taking over US politics.
From Krugman's column: Karl Rove's America:
What Mr. Rove understood, long before the rest of us, is that we're not living in the America of the past, where even partisans sometimes changed their views when faced with the facts. Instead, we're living in a country in which there is no longer such a thing as nonpolitical truth. In particular, there are now few, if any, limits to what conservative politicians can get away with: the faithful will follow the twists and turns of the party line with a loyalty that would have pleased the Comintern . . . there's no question that [Rove] damaged national security for partisan advantage. If a Democrat had done that, Republicans would call it treason. But what we're getting, instead, is yet another impressive demonstration that these days, truth is political. One after another, prominent Republicans and conservative pundits have declared their allegiance to the party line. They haven't just gone along with the diversionary tactics, like the irrelevant questions about whether Mr. Rove used Valerie Wilson's name in identifying her . . . or the false, easily refuted claim that Mr. Wilson lied about who sent him to Niger. They're now a chorus, praising Mr. Rove as a patriotic whistle-blower. Ultimately, this isn't just about Mr. Rove. It's also about Mr. Bush, who has always known that his trusted political adviser . . . is a thug, and obviously made no attempt to find out if he was the leaker. Most of all, it's about what has happened to America. How did our political system get to this point?
I think that frankly, sir, people don't give a damn. Too many people can't be bothered reading up on issues and thinking about things and formulating their opinions -- that's too much work. Its easier just to go along to get along.
Particularly easy is to fall into the belief that the leader is always right just because he's the leader. And seeing this happen to a democracy as long-established as the US is just a little scary for the rest of us -- will there come a time when our own democracy is just too much work, where it will be easier to just go along with every crackpot, harebrained spin cycle of "our party" and "our leader" than to consider a contrary position?
That path leads to the divine right of kings.

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