Is Obama acting like Cincinnatus?

Republicans (small r) use the political language of republicanism in political society and the state to govern agency, public policy, and political development. However, in America, some scholars of American political development (APD) argue, like Hartz, that America is a liberal (i.e. capitalism and democracy rule) state.

Like, when Kalyvas and Katznelson (2008) state, “Political liberalism burst from the shell of a republican chrysalis” (5); to what degree is republicanism still creating shells for liberalism to burst through? Is republicanism in the early 21st century an institutional path for political development, like it was in the late 1700s?

For example, Obama called on Congress to pass a resolution to authorize the Commander-in-Chief to use force against the Syrian regime. Obama created the opportunity for public debate. This corresponds to the Federalist Papers and Hamilton’s dissimilitude regarding when the President of the United States can start a war.

I argue that President Obama’s response to the crisis in Syria represents a an opportunity for republicanism. And when researching republicanism in the early 21st century American, the place to search is still town hall meetings.

At a Town Hall meeting on Syria, recently, (Carol Platt Liebau | Sep 08, 2013): (full article here):

Judging from the heated anti-intervention sentiment that prevailed among what otherwise would seem like a polite crowd, on a sunny Sunday in a quiet Connecticut town, I suspect that the President confronts an almost insurmountable challenge in both convincing Americans to support him and in persuading dubious legislators to back him (especially in the House, where elections come a lot more often).

As today’s town hall highlighted, Americans are angry.  They have questions and they expect the people whom they have elected — up to and including the President — to answer them.  Obama has his work cut out for him.

Now, let’s look at some of the recent developments.

Once Syria and Russia said that they could work together to eliminate chemical weapons from the Syrian regime, Obama asked Congress to delay vote on Syria military strike (Reuters, Sept. 10).

“What he (Obama) wants is to check out the seriousness of the Syrian and the Russian willingness to get rid of those chemical weapons in Syria. He wants time to check it out,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin told reporters.

Today, we often associate elections with liberalism. As for political development, Obama is not acting as an authoritarian (pre-emptive war without congressional approval). As a liberal response, Obama is making the issue something for all members of congress to vote on; and consequently, majority rules. Congressional action or inaction could be used in future elections by the people to “throw the rascals out.”

I question the degree to which republicanism may be a day-to-day influence on American political development. Herein, for instance, is an example of possible republican political development, specially, if we see a surge in public debate and public resolve upon this matter.

In a republic, the President is a representative of republican virtue. The President is an enlightened Cincinnatus.

Then again, republicanism has always relied on virtuous leaders to make the right decisions.


2 thoughts on “Is Obama acting like Cincinnatus?

  1. Pingback: Differentiating republicanism, liberalism, and authoritarianism | Political Pipeline

  2. Pingback: Understanding republicanism | Political Pipeline

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