January 14, 2007

Disloyalty and Criticism

I guess I'm in a cynical mood after last night's dinner guests expressed similar contempt for our national leadership as I read in some ironic invective from the Reality-Based Community. A surge of 20,000 "new" troops is the answer? They're just going to replace the British troops withdrawing from Basra, leaving overall troop levels pretty much the same as they are now.

Our dinner guest was Canadian and expressed gratitude at the existence of the monarchy in the British Commonwealth. He explained, it allows people to be critical of the democratically-elected government while still displaying loyalty to the country -- because the ministes who make policy are different from the head of state who personifies the country. In the U.S., we unify high-level decision making authority with the symbolic power of the Presidency. (At the same time, of course, Commonwealth subjects can and do take great pleasure in thumbing their noses at the Queen, but that's a different issue.) Even more ironically, the Royal Family is looking at the risk that one of their own will be deployed to Iraq soon.

Here, though, our political dialogue has become less meaningful. I criticize the President for both getting us into this mess (admitting that, at the time, I thought it was a good idea, too) and for not being able to figure out a way to get us out of it (admitting that I don't have any better ideas myself). To some people, that's akin to treason or disrespect for the troops. I don't think it is, though; looking objectively at reality, even if it is not pleasing, is always better than popping on the rose-colored glasses and hoping for the best.

1 comment:

Salsola said...

So mouthing loyality to a figurehead is better than being loyal to the actual leader? Since when is criticism being disloyal anyway.
Also, accusing someone of being disloyal for criticism is a part of political process, and has a long history.
It is not like people who are criticized as being disloyal (or are actually disloyal short of treason) will be hanged.