Political Voice

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Million Man March.jpg
Million Man March

Having a political voice in a nation's government is one of the most disarming and undermining weapons against groups advocating revolution. Political voice results in political evolution, not revolution, in nearly all cases. Iran and Egypt are opposites today in how they respond to their people's demand for a political voice. The outcomes are likely to be just as opposite. But, the U.S. must take care, now, as well.

In Egypt, the real power broker is the military. The military has the power to remove Mubarak by force, or remove the demonstrators, by force. The military has chose to mediate and separate these two opposing forces until resolution was reached. Early attempts to shut down the political voice of the Egyptian people were absent, and later a complete failure. The military would not deny the people their desire to assemble and protest. As a result, the military remains highly regarded by the Egyptian people, and the military has chosen to mediate on the people's behalf, it would appear with the advent of Mubarak stepping down.

What happens next in Egypt is not at all clear. However, if the military and the Egyptian people remain allied with each other, there is a very real potential for free and honest elections to take place. Elections do not constitute democracy, however, and it is not evident yet, that the Egyptian people even have a consensus as to what democracy should look like in Egypt. The key factor at the moment, which opens the possibility to democracy and human rights in Egypt, is the Egyptian people finding and exercising their political voice without fear of reprisal or retribution.

Such is not the case in Iran, where the government has severely clamped down on public communications, prevented free public demonstrations, and invoked news blackouts in response to citizen factions attempting to repeat the events of Egypt in Iran. In effect, the Iranian government has closed all avenues by the people to peaceably assert a political voice. That leaves the Iranian public with the dire choice of accepting their fate as a jailed people in their own homes and country, or, joining a revolutionary underground organizing a violent overthrow of their government.

In America's history, King George of England refused to hear and negotiate with the Colonialists in the 18th century, forcing, as with the case of Iran, the people into a difficult and dangerous choice, to accept their subjugation or overthrow British rule in a declaration of war against their own government. We know how that turned out, with enormous good luck, incredible leadership, and monumental sacrifice of life and livelihood for the objective of independence from authoritarian rule.

The only thing that can be said for certain of what is taking place in the Middle East, is that these events in Tunisia, Egypt, Iran, and Yemen, mark a dramatic change in the future of the Middle East as a region. Titanic forces between populist demand for self-determination and enormously wealthy authoritarian rulers with military resources, are now on a collision course into the future of the region.

In America, and other democratic nations, people will exercise their political voice regarding the role their own nation's should play in aiding these populist demands for self-determination in those Middle Eastern nations. Some will advocate for their own military to engage the military of Middle Eastern nations. Others will advocate for financial aid and support. Still others will advocate for covert paramilitary operations designed to aid and support overthrow of authoritarian governments in the Middle East. And still others will advocate for moral support without direct intervention. To be sure, each of those options will carry a potential for success and failure, and all will have attending costs.

Each of these voices in democratic societies will be heard. Their positions will find representatives in their governments championing their positions. Those representatives will argue and debate the relative merits and costs of each position. And in the end, these people's representatives will elect a course of action, everyone having had their say in the matter. The disgruntled will accept the fate of their ideas, and live to fight another day for their views on another issue. And that is the all-powerful lure of a functioning democratic process, that consensus is reached, and everyone moves on with their lives in a peaceful manner, not having been forced to put their life, or the lives of their families, at risk.

There is a euphoric reaction taking place among freedom loving people around the world in response to the Egyptian people's victory in ousting their dictator through largely peaceful means. Conversely, the heads of government in non-free nations like China and Iran have have to be very much on the defensive, lest similar attempts at uprising and grand scale public dissent arise in their own nations. However, there is a crucial factor to be observed in the wake of these events, and it is the economics of the situation.

The fuel that fed the fire for protests and demonstrations in Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen, was poverty. Egypt's enormous unemployment rate and suffering by their population under the age of 40, sowed the seeds of risk-taking by these people. If they had jobs, and a hopeful financial future of improving their station and financial condition, they never would have taken to the streets and risked their jobs and lives in the name of freedom and more democracy. Which means the Chinese government has little to fear from the events in Egypt, while the Iranian government has to be very distressed over the prospect of their people witnessing the events in Egypt.

In a very real sense, democracy is only as stable as the economic and financial prospects of its people. Democracy took hold in various stages of evolution in S.E. Asian nations several decades ago, but, they remain stunted in their growth and development by pervasive underground black markets, wholesale corruption, and limited legitimate employment and financial opportunities for the people of these nations. For democracy to succeed and thrive, economic opportunity must exist for all the people of that nation. As economic prospects worsen, political dissent and divide grow in a democratic nation.

The United States is experiencing just such a phenomenon in the first decade of the 21st century, as real wages continued to fall or stagnate for the majority, and financial sector collapse invoked a doubling of unemployment. These circumstances helped usher forth The Tea Party movement, and political divides withing the Republican Party, as well as the growth of an anti-incumbent voter movement that resulted in a significant drop in incumbents running or winning elections in 2010, and Democrats holding the reins of government for only 2 years, before having to share power again with Republicans.

My response to Americans calling for the U.S. to invest billions of dollars, and the lives of our military in a campaign to win democracy for oppressed people in the Middle East, is for them to look to the weakening of their own democracy and erosion in economic prospects for their own middle class and poor, and repair these before committing their nation's resources to the prospects of democracy in other nations. The absolute worse thing that could happen to oppressed people around the world is to have them witness the failure of the America democracy and economy in decades to come.

Pres. Ronald Reagan referred to the United States as the Shining City on the Hill (invoking the image of the city of Oz, in the movie Wizard of Oz). In his allusion, the United States is a beacon for oppressed people around the world to follow toward their own independence, self-determination, and success. Americans have a first duty and obligation to the world to insure its own continued success and progress for posterity of all the people in the world. In other words, Americans have a difficult challenge of their own to overcome in the coming years, as their continued economic and political success is anything but assured at this moment in time with debt threatening to destroy their economy over the next 2 decades, and a rampant distrust and disbelief growing in the American public toward their own government and political system.

Now is the time for Americans to exercise their own political voice in demanding far better from their own politicians and government in insuring the future success of the great American experiment in democracy and economic prosperity and opportunity for all.

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on February 11, 2011 2:49 PM.

What Egypt Portends was the previous entry in this blog.

Wisconsin Symptom is the next entry in this blog.

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