The Revolution is Not a Dinner Party

It's Just Lunch....or IS IT??

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Team America = form over function

Always reliable Wikipedia has an excellent summary of democracy in the abstract. Robert Dahl is a giant in the field. In Democracy and Its Critics (1989), he presents five basic criteria for democracy (Effective Participation, Voting Equality at Decision Stage, Enlightened Understanding, Control of the Agenda, and Inclusiveness). I'm not done looking through the footnotes, but I'm pretty sure he didn't include "the external manifestations of elections performed by an uninformed polity deciding between identical platforms."

Sham elections used to be the thing of despots, communists, and fascists. But, whether your personal proclivities tend towards The End of History or The End of Days, we all seem to agree that everything has changed now. The intellectuals who are supposed to be reminding us of all the "old" stuff are too busy scarffing down USAID grants to care.

Am I happy that Iraq managed to have elections with only slightly more bloodshed than the worst Haitian elections? Yes, of course. Is it a victory for peace-love people everywhere? Of course not. Democracy only leads to peace if it is real democracy. If anything, this sets a precedent of shame elections that will no doubt serve the Quadafis and Kuwati Royals of the world well. Who knew democracy could be so easy? You just declare the political opposition "criminals" and "outsiders" and then have free elections between "real citizens" chosen by "real citizens."

I understand that good-intentioned scholars may disagree with the proper order of steps towards getting to a functional democracy. It is easy enough to theorize that early, if totally inadequate, elections would go far toward creating an interested and engaged political society. I also understand the courage and resolve displayed by everyday Iraqi's who went out and braved bombs and walked through puddles of blood to vote.

But, the entire process has been cheapened by a Bush Administration that was hell-bent on holding the elections as early as possible. In order to cover up the fact that said "elections" had no possible chance of electing a candidate contrary to US interest, the administration made the election yet another battle in an interminable war against bad guys. The bad guys wanted to blow up the elections. They didn't. So we won. Huzzahs all around boys! Good work! Just don't ask questions.

Where is the fucking media these days? I watched British, US, and Iraqi news broadcasts today. All of them had the main story as "Not as much violence as we expected." Are there actual candidates? do they have positions? is it weird that I care?


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