Cowardice, Meet Politics: Congress Didn't Want to Vote on ISIS Plan, Anyway


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It is clear to many people—even many Congressmen—that President Obama's decision not to seek Congressional authorization for his plan to fight ISIS is blatantly unconstitutional. So why is no one pressing the president about that? Don't national lawmakers possess, at the very least, some basic desire to hold onto their legitimate powers?

It appears that they don't—or rather, political considerations trump all else. According to BuzzFeed's John Stanton, most legislators were perfectly happy not voting on ISIS matters, for fear that a vote could come back to haunt them in future election cycles:

"There are a lot of members who'd just rather just not vote on this and let the president to shoulder the [political] weight of taking us to war," Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said Tuesday. Schiff is one of a handful of lawmakers who has pushed for a vote this month on a new Authorized Use of Military Force legislation to cover the administration's campaign against ISIS. …

The perils of a vote for lawmakers are clear: Giving Obama authority could be a major liability in future elections; Hilary Clinton famously took major heat during the 2008 presidential campaign for her support of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. If Congress failed to pass authorization and a major attack were to happen in the homeland, lawmakers could see an even more severe backlash.

So even though legislators of both political parties remain deeply skeptical that Obama's policy of launching continuous airstrikes against ISIS and arming the Syrian rebels will accomplish any long-term goal, the president will basically always get his way on contentious foreign policy matters, since voting carries political risks.

(Keep in mind that the CIA has been discreetly arming the Syrian rebels all along, even though the vote to do that specific thing only took place yesterday. The CIA now believes such a strategy is "doomed to failure.")

Democracy: Good for a laugh, if nothing else.