There has been a lot of talk recently about the war in Afghanistan, and whether or not Barack Obama will send more troops (again) to continue it. I was watching an interview on Fox News last week with two Congresspersons, one Democrat and one Republican, weighing in on the war. By the end, I wasn’t stunned by the responses, just disappointed. Disappointed in the utter disregard for the legislature’s duty to provide a check and balance on the executive branch as ordered by the Constitution.
The Republican talked at great length about “supporting the troops”. This is a phrase that we’ve seen many times to justify the perpetuation of war. We often hear rhetoric about “supporting the troops,” and how cutting the funding for the war will put our troops in danger. Cutting the funding to the war is almost unthinkable by many in the congress, even those who don’t support the war. This “support our troops” rhetoric, as it is used by many on the right, deems such action as un-American. It is almost as if putting troops in harms way (un-Constitutionally, might I add) by the executive is less of a threat to their well being, than the Congress ending the funding of the war. This rhetoric has effectively neutralized the Congress’s “power of the purse,” which is an essential check on executive power.
The Democrat went on for a long time about supporting whatever decision the President comes to. Here, again, we see the disregard for the Constitutional powers granted to the Congress. It seems that no one remembers the idea that the Executive is supposed to enforce the laws (and wars) deemed necessary by the Congress—not the other way around. Our system of politics has strayed far from the framing of government provided in the constitution. It is a system of the party, by the party, and for the party; a system where the people, philosophy, and common sense play an insignificant role in the shaping of policy.
It is time that Congress starts doing its job—its real job. Stop blindly following your president and take a concrete stand on issues. The label “Democrat” or “Republican” should not take precedence over your philosophical ideals. If you oppose the war, oppose it. Don’t wait to see what your commander in chief thinks about it. Start providing a check on the authoritarian office that the Presidency has become. Stop undermining your own authority with your rhetoric! Most importantly, follow the Constitution and play your much-needed part in this government. It is your duty not only to this country, but to the people you represent.