March 26, 2007

Wages of Democracy?

Just over a year ago, I asked the question: What will it take to dump Dubya?. His approval ratings had dropped below the mid-30s range, and it puzzled me that 34% percent of the American people still supported him, despite his crimes and failures. I asked myself "What more does he have to do, or rather fail to do, to convince the other 34% that they had made a mistake in electing him?"

During the intervening year, his approval rating climbed by a few points, but it is back down to the 30% range again, and there is no reason to believe that it will ever increase again. The overwhelming sense of failure that has overtaken his presidency and the American people as a whole is palpable and inescapable, and nothing seems to be able to change that. It used to be that apparent "successes" in the "war on terror" would raise his profile a bit -- not by much, but by a little anyway. Not any longer. The "confessions" of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the supposed mastermind of 9/11 and just about every other terrorist attack in history, helped Dubya not at all.

So the question I have to ask again, but in a slightly different sense, is "What will it take to dump Dubya?" Should not there be a lower limit in a political leader's approval rating below which he will not be allowed to go? In other words, should there not be an automatic mechanism for removing a political leader that is triggered when his approval rating falls below a set limit? Or at least should there not be a mechanism for a recall referendum that is triggered by such an eventuality? For instance, perhaps there should be a referendum on keeping the leader when his/her approval rating falls below 40% or so.

As I said, Dubya's approval rating does not seem to have any upward potential, to use a business-type term. At the current rate of descent, it will probably fall below 25% by the end of his second term. What kind of legitimacy could a political leader have who is rejected by three quarters of the population? Is this lack of legitimacy, this sham legitimacy, just another price the American people have to pay for their "freedoms"?

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