When Are The People Responsible For Their Government?
In a world filled with crisis and ever-increasing numbers of armed conflicts, at some point the people of any country at war bear the brunt of the damage. When are those people, at least in part, responsible for the conflict?
In Israel, a representative democracy with a popularly elected parliament and a prime minister who heads that government, the Israeli people must take some responsibility for the lack of leadership of the current coalition government. Now Netanyahu is not a popularly elected leader, but there is no doubt that as he is the man who has served in the prime minister’s role the longest in Israel’s history. The Israeli people who put him there by voting for his party knew what they were getting. He is a man willing to do anything for power including aligning himself with irrational ultra-nationalists and zealot ultra-religious parties. The agenda of his government from the outset was to weaken the judiciary, enlarge Israel proper by annexing the settlements, keeping the West Bank Palestinians in disarray, and concentrating power in the hands of the few in Israel. At first, the resistance was loud and perhaps effective on both sides of the Atlantic, but not enough. Bibi was still in charge. His eye was off the ball and Hamas both perceived this and struck at his weakness which he continues to display by not taking any responsibility yet for October 7.
Yes, Bibi is the problem, but somehow Israelis chose him. It is up to Israelis to throw him out.
In Gaza, things are a little different. Yes, Hamas was elected by the Gazan citizens, but that was 15 years ago and there have been no elections since. Nonetheless, ordinary Gazan citizens needed to somehow mount a resistance to Hamas if Hamas chose rockets over commerce and terrorism over economic growth as the future of Gaza.
Finally, we in the United States better not be too smug. We are heading in the same direction.
Our most directly representative governing body cannot even govern itself as the Republican majority in the House of Representatives has no leader and cannot even work with the Democrats to get one. The obvious solution to the GOP’s dilemma is to bargain with the Democratic leadership for the votes of its members which would negate the influence of the Gaetzian crazies. How is Jim Jordan going to do that after aligning himself with Donald Trump? If not Jordan, then who?
And on the subject of presidential politics, most Americans don’t want a rematch of 2020 in 2024, but that looks like where we are headed and no one seems to know how to prevent what will surely be a bad outcome no matter who wins. If we are collectively responsible, how do we get better choices for president?
In all three locales, leadership is failing the people and the people seem impotent to do anything about it. How representative is any government if the voice of the people is silenced?
When the dust settles in the Middle East, months from now, Israel must have new elections and Mr. Netanyahu must face the consequences of his inept leadership. His legacy is no more. Maybe if he can get the hostages back safely, he can save some face, but it took Ronald Reagan ousting Jimmy Carter to get our hostages back from Iran and that took over a year. And then there was Iran-Contra.
In Gaza, it is not at all obvious what the future holds for the Palestinians who live there. Where can they go if Israel levels the place? Who will govern if Israel destroys Hamas as is its stated goal? The people will want a voice, but what’s the vehicle? It surely cannot be either Hamas or the Palestinian Authority under its current weak leadership in the West Bank. Israel must come up with a plan for both the West Bank and for Gaza that allows self-government while eliminating terrorism that is a risk to Israeli citizens. The one-state solution is an impossibility if Israel is to remain the Jewish state and the two-state solution seems further away than ever.
In the United States, the best solution would be if Mr. Biden solved the Middle East dilemma, got the hostages back, and created a framework for peace, and then retired. Of course, what Democrat is up to the job of the presidency?
Finally, the GOP has to decide if the best representative of their political philosophy is an elderly man, in terrible shape, with a chip on his shoulder the size of Trump Tower and 91 indictments hanging over his head.
Are the people responsible for the government they get? Maybe the government that they get is exactly the one they deserve. If that’s the case, that can change, too. Either way—better or worse.