The Irish experience with the Lisbon Treaty strikes me as representative of a broader problem with democracy. Briefly, the Irish were asked to vote on ratification of the Lisbon Treaty in 2008. They voted against it. They were then asked to vote again in 2009, and this time voted for it. What troubles me is that, on this sort of question, “no” means “no, for now” and “yes” means “yes, forever” (to a first approximation). When the side that wants the “yes” result keeps asking the question over and over and over, it seems to me to be not quite cricket.

I can see no real alternative to this state of affairs; this is a problem with the type of question being asked, and such questions will from time to time arise. It suggests, however, that “standing athwart history, shouting ‘Stop!'” is not a viable long-term strategy; one must aggressively push forward towards the ends one desires – merely resisting drift away from them is doomed to failure. I believe that this is the meaning of the political aphorism “you can’t fight something with nothing”.

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