I. Introduction: Statement of Claim
The American public has for a long time rested in the shadow of the belief that the United States is a super power. Many citizens of the United States are not concerned with what happens beyond the borders of the United States. I have personally come across Americans who think that Africa is a country. This shows how ignorant some Americans are regarding international affairs. A New York Times/CBS News national poll conducted in 2010 showed that about 60% of Americans were concerned with domestic affairs like unemployment. Only about 3% of the sampled population was concerned with the war in Afghanistan (Sussman and Thee-Brenan 1) The American public is only alert with international affairs in the case of an emergency. However, after an emergency has been adequately addressed the American public quickly switches back to domestic affairs. Bowman and Rugg, of the American Magazine, explain that” For nine months after 9/11, terrorism occupied the top spot in polls as a national concern. Today, less than 1 percent says it is the most important problem”(Bowman and Rugg 1). Since political leaders are elected by the American public, which is not concerned with international affairs, members of Congress have to be more concerned with domestic affairs than international issues. This situation has led to increased congressional acquiescence with regards to foreign policy in that most are not concerned about what is happening overseas. This essay explains how the lack of concern by the American public towards international affairs has contributed to increased congressional acquiescence in the United States.
II. Substantiating of Claim using facts and evidence.
First of all, it is important to note that Congressmen are elected by the American public. Since they are elected officials, their main concern is re-election. In order to be re-elected, political leaders have to address the needs of their voters. Most of the American voters today are concerned with domestic issues like unemployment and taxes. Therefore, many congressmen tend to concentrate their efforts on domestic issues facing their people. This has created a congress of people who have little to no concern regarding international affairs. A national Gallup poll conducted between October 21st and 22nd ,2002 showed that voters were more likely to vote for a member of Congress who focussed on local and state issues more than a candidate who had more experience in particular field. This shows that the quality of the members of Congress is not based on their expertise and knowledge but their ability to meet the needs of their constituents with regards to domestic politics. The lack of experts in Congress in fields like foreign policy has caused many members of Congress to agree with the president. In addition, the lack of expertise with regards to foreign policy is the reason why members of Congress have played politics instead of creating policy during essential times. Brian Montopoli ,of CBS news, explains that during the debt crisis debate Congress found it difficult to get to a consensus because members of Congress engaged in partisan politics and not policy making(Montopoli 2). According to a poll conducted by ABC News, the debt crisis debate made the public disapproval of Congress to get to an all time high of 82 percent (Montopoli 3). Therefore, the American public preference for domestic politics and not foreign policy have caused them to elect congressional leaders who lack the expertise to handle foreign affairs thereby leading to more dependency on the presidency for foreign policy decisions and at the same time making Congress to be an institution of partisan politics and not policy making.
Secondly, it is important to realize that in the recent years there has been a trend by presidents to take international actions without consulting Congress. For example, Obama dispatched troop to Libya without congressional approval (Bresnahan and Allen 1). However, majority of the American public has continued to be supportive of these presidents. In 2002 when President George .W. Bush sent troops to Iraq Congress was not pleased with his action. However, the majority of the American public rallied behind him. A poll conducted by Pew Research Center shows that although Bush’s work ratings dropped from 43 to 47 percent, his support by the American public rose from 23 to 57 percent (Adams 3). This shows that the American public is not concerned about the actions of the president internationally because they believe that the president knows what he is doing. This attitude by the American public has led congressmen to lack a ground for not giving in to the ideas of the president in Congress except partisan politics.
Third, the United States is currently involved in many foreign undertakings. Some of these undertakings include the fact that the United States is at war with various terrorist groups around the world like the Taliban in Afghanistan. The United States has also been actively involved in the agitation and fight for democracies around the world for example in the case of Northern Africa in 2011. One thing that is important to understand is that all these foreign undertakings that the United States has been involved in necessitate the use of capital. The continued uses of millions of US dollars in these undertakings have caused the United States’ economy to experience challenges. Bearing in mind that the president is the person who is considered as being a representative of the United States in foreign matters, most members of Congress have found it important to acquiesce to the stand of the presidency because they believe that the president understand why he supports the foreign activities that the United States is involved in. However, it is important realize that the continued failure of Congress to put the president to task over the participation of the United States in foreign matters have continued to cost the American citizen more taxes because all these activities have to be sustained financially.
In conclusion, the more concern of the American public on domestic affairs compared to international politics has caused Congressmen to focus on meeting the domestic needs of the people and not being active in decision making processes that concern international affairs. Secondly, the high attention of the American public to international affairs during emergencies causes Congressmen to opt not to put gridlocks in the decision making process thereby giving in to the ideas of the presidency. Finally, the American public have a political culture that is characterized by high trust in the presidency with regards to international affairs. Therefore, most people are not concerned about the actions of the presidency provided these actions are done to protect the international respect of the United States.
Adams, Brian T. “Public Support for War is Steady, But Bush Job Ratings.”
Pew Research Center. 5 Apr. 2004: 1-3. Access U.S. Newswires. Web. 14
Bowman, Karlyn, and Andrew Rugg. “Americans and the Terrorism Threat 10 Years.”
The American 31 Aug. 2011: 1-3. American Archive Online. Web. 13 July
Bresnahan, John, and Jonathan Allen. “Liberal Democrats in Uproar over Iraq.”
Politico 11 Mar. 2011: 1-5. International Political Science
Abstracts. Web. 14 July 2012.
Montopoli, Brian. “Poll: Disapproval of Congress hits all-time high.” CBS News 4
Aug. 2011: 1-4. CBS Archives. Web. 14 July 2012.
Sussman, Dalia, and Megan Thee-Brenan. “For Midterm Voters, War Is Off the Radar.”
New York Times 15 Oct. 2010: 1-7. The New York Times. Web. 14 July 2012.
< http://www.nytimes.com/2010/ 10/16/us/politics/16poll.html?_r=1.>.