(if, in fact, you can trust the polls and disregard the work that goes into manipulating public opinion)
As I see it, the purpose of these anti-war protests, which go on despite the warning that they will be ignored, is to ultimately register the seriousness of the dissenting viewpoint with the politicians. As written into the Constitution, legislative decisions are made by majority rule. It does not matter how weakly the majority supports a decision, or how strongly the minority opposes it, the majority vote wins.
Theoretically, a minority viewpoint can trade concessions in back-room deals to get their concerns addressed, at some cost to their other concerns. However, a group with no political weight, like a bunch of ordinary citizens with like views, has nothing to trade for their concession. With no way to reward those who barter in ideology and morality, there is no legal means to create change based on their strongly-held beliefs.
Over the years, we have come to find increasing fault with the "democratic" system as it stands, attested to by voting irregularities, expensive lobbyists, and criminal records amongst our leaders. While the breakdown of the democratic system is extremely consequential, it is not necessarily unexpected. Any imperfect system which remains static for a long enough period of time will find its flaws exploited. Occasional change is needed to shake off the parasites.
Meanwhile, I think the next evolution in the democratic process is taking shape in the activists groups here in Portland. Using a consensus model of decision making, majority rule followed by discussion is still the basis for making decisions, except that _strong objection_ can be expressed in the form of a blocking vote. Blocking votes, by definition, need to be taken seriously, because when someone makes a blocking vote, they are in effect saying "I can no longer be a part of this group in good conscience if the proposed action goes forth." Obviously this necessitates more discussion amongst the group members, and a small percentage of blocking votes can be over-ruled, at the expense of losing those members whose concerns cannot be allayed.
This contrasts with "democracy" in the sense that you can never _leave_ the group of the American people and nation-state - unless you also leave its terrortory. And there aren't a lot of nations begging for new mouths to feed, either. A lot of people have expressed a desire to dissociate or seceed from America, without moving an inch. And those people, by and large, get bullied and shot.
The other difference is that "democracy" cares not at all how strongly the minority feels about its passed-over views in relation to the lukewarm feelings of the majority. If you can't muster the votes or the political clout to accomplish your goals, no matter how strongly you hold them, you are considered a sore loser if you don't just acquiesce to the majority view. The consensus model works just the opposite - it recognizes a place for strength of resolve, and provides opportunity for a impassioned minority to match a complascent majority.
In a world where droves of commentators rail at anti-war protesters and their inability to find leaders to speak for them, I think the next few revolutions in human empowerment are quietly simmering away for anyone who has the patience or motivation to look. And because the people embodying these views and ideals are benevolent in their desires, the future-beyond-the-empire has strong footings in the general citizenry.