Jon has an interesting point about government relying on the fact that people are busy. The Scooter Libby commutation was a tipping-point for me, the way that Net-Neutrality just isn’t. If the commutation stands, and the president and vice-president are not impeached, then the system of checks and balances is dead. The presidency will be shrouded in secrecy and run like the mob. Administrative officials brought before congress to account for their actions will not recall any specifics but assure the public nothing improper occurred.
The only non-violent form of protest that has proven effective is a strike (which can often turn violent). However, it must reach a critical mass in order to be effective. And it seems equally obvious that the critical mass has not been achieved. But, striking is disruptive it means potentially losing your job, your house, your car, etc. Things people are willing to risk, if say, they or their loved ones might be drafted, sent over to an unjust war and die, but Net-Neutrality is probably just an angry letter to a congressman or blog post. In that sense, I think Jon nails the political calculus of the Bush Administration and their balancing act. There was one moment of accountability, the 2004 election, and the Bush Administration passed. Everything else is irrelevant. Warrants, censures, etc. If it is short of impeachment, it will mean nothing.
So, I’ve tipped. However, it is because I have less to lose, and I could probably recover. I can understand how most people wouldn’t be in a similar situation. But, the net-effect is that democracy sits down.
I can’t help but marvel at the manufactured injustice. Those that volunteered for service then are forced back into the meat-grinder (even if it was reservist or National Guard). I wonder if part of the reason the cost of the war is sky-rocketing is because this war, was in certain ways, privatized. Now, we literally can’t pay people enough to go over there. So, we stick it to those that were previously obligated, and pay the contractors more, just to keep the whole thing churning.
I really can’t imagine what military families go through when loved ones go off to war. I don’t honestly think the majority of them begrudge the choices and sacrifices that they’ve made. It is because of this quiet dignity that we must be especially mindful of the burdens we, as a society, place at their feet. This president, and our government is pressing such burden on those who serve, it is the obligation of the government to either disperse the burden more evenly, through a draft or eliminate it, through withdrawal. That would be the right thing to do, that would be the just thing to do. However, I expect it will just be another year of this imperfect balance.