The Naivety of Glenn Greenwald

So, Glenn Greenwald, having apparently been in a stupor all his life, has just noticed that U.S. government policies don’t reflect the opinions of the majority of the U.S. people. As an example, he cites U.S policy towards Israel. However, he could have chosen immigration, taxation, or pretty much any other issue. Why he is surprised, I don’t know. First, in a republic, the government will never accurately reflect the direct will of the people. That’s inherent in the design of the system of representation. Secondly, he misses the fact that what is important is not opinion, but commitment. Commitment means that you give money, organize and vote around an opinion. And it is commitment that moves policy, not opinion. Most people have opinions on many issues, but they have commitment towards far fewer.

If Greenwald would bother to do some reading, he would find that his startling new discovery about the power of small, committed groups of people to mold policy was first made about 3,000 years ago. More recently, about 200 years ago, this power was a major concern of the founding fathers of the U.S. when they designed our government. Indeed, James Madison wrote an entire essay on the problem of these “factions,’ which he defined as:

“a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.”

I’d suggest Greenwald read this essay, but he’s probably too busy blogging about his startling new discovery of how the checks and balances of the U.S. governmental system makes real change hard.

UPDATE: Major mess-up, I wrote Reynolds instead of Greenwald when I originally wrote this piece. Thanks Dag for pointing out my mistake.

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