Sure, sometimes I’m a critic of the state of American democracy. But I’m also a fan. One reason I’m a fan is that I read the papers. Compare our situation with that of, say, Indonesia.
Only a few years ago Indonesians were able to democratically elect their president for the very first time, a fellow named Wahid. But President Wahid quickly got embroiled in charges of corruption. Finally, he was impeached by the Indonesian parliament and asked to step down. The man was reluctant to go, to say the least. In fact, when Parliament first moved against him, Wahid tried to call a state of emergency and stop it from meeting at all. He says he’s all in favor of democracy, but his own actions relay a mixed message at best.
When The New York Times asked him what he was most proud of accomplishing, Wahid said he was proud of “beginning the process of democratization.” Then he added, in virtually the same breath: “I announced several days ago that those who insult the president will be arrested by the police and taken to court. . . . If you say the right things, okay. But if you utter slander, you will be detained. For me, this is democracy.” Yikes. Kind of sounds like some versions of Campaign Finance Reform, doesn’t it? Anyway, this dictatorial version of democracy did not win the day. The military refused to impose a state of emergency and Wahid finally left the palace, peacefully. Thus, despite all the setbacks, Indonesian democracy seems to be muddling through, may even flourish. As shall we.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.