Sunday, October 31, 2004

Democracy At Risk

Here is a post from one of my favorite political blogs, MSNBC's Hardblogger, the reason why I like it so much is it is one of the very few political blogs where the posters are both politically balanced and competent. With commentators like Pat Buchanan, Joe Scarborough, Ron Regan and Joe Trippi (just to name a few and not even considering the msNBC reporting staff) you would be hard pressed of find anywhere else that gathers as many diverse political opinions and this much practical political experience in the same place. The other day one of their reporters David Shuster posted an article entitled “Our democracy at risk?” which was on a topic that I was planning on writing about but Mr. Shuster article was much more elegant then anything I could throw together in my spare time so I thought I would just re-post his article for popular consumption.

"Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government." ~Thomas Jefferson

I've been wondering lately what Thomas Jefferson would think about the millions and millions of people who are about to step into a voting booth... and instead of being "well-informed," they are "mis-informed."

I'm talking specifically about those voters who are convinced Saddam Hussein's Iraqi regime had weapons of mass destruction when U.S. forces invaded.

Despite a recent and well-publicized report from the Bush administration's own chief weapon inspector that Iraq did not have WMD or WMD programs before the Iraqi war, a new poll suggests that 53 percent of "uncommitted voters" believe that Iraq did have such WMD or WMD programs. The University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) and Knowledge Networks, a California-based polling firm, had even more stunning numbers regarding "Bush voters." 72 percent of Bush voters said they believed Iraq had WMD or WMD programs when the U.S. invaded. (47 percent of the Bush voters believe Iraq had actual weapons of mass destruction, and 25 percent
believe Iraq had WMD programs.)

A few weeks ago, Charles Duelfer, the Bush administration's own Iraqi weapon's inspector, wrote a report concluding that Saddam Hussein's regime (1) destroyed its chemical and biological weapons after the first gulf war 13 years ago, (2) ended the nuclear program 13 years ago and never restarted it, and (3) abandoned biological weapons research 8 years ago because of UN sanctions.

To me, some intellectually logical and honest arguments do exist that support the invasion of Iraq. I respect people who feel that because our government suspected in March of 2003 that Saddam had WMD... the invasion was justified to find out for sure. (Whether one agrees or disagrees with the decision to invade versus continue diplomacy/inspections is an entirely different matter.) My point is that you can argue for the invasion while still acknowledging today that Iraq didn't have WMD.

So, why are so many voters clinging to the now disproven claim that Saddam had WMD? Have those voters been misled? Are these voters simply ignorant? Whatever the reason, an electorate that is widely "misinformed" is dangerous to us all. Thomas Jefferson, if you can hear us, please help.


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