For years, Egyptians have called for greater democracy and constitutional limits — like term limits. Now newly appointed Egyptian Vice President Omar Suhleiman dangles the concession of term limits for the president, freedom for the press and an end to the three decades of emergency powers, the better to retain the keys to the nation’s executive washroom and the army. Or so he hopes.
Wisely, both pro-democratic and not-so-democratic opponents aren’t buying it. Opponents fear that such concessions will (if Mubarak or his chosen cronies remain in power) be pulled back later.
At a time more opportune for thuggery.
Still, how to get from a brutally repressive state to a free, constitutional democratic republic? Revolution is a clumsy, dangerous mode of political change.
Jefferson may have written something about “refreshing” the tree of liberty every generation with the blood of patriots, but most of us prefer more peaceful methods.
Lo and behold, they exist: Free elections. Here in America, voters have had the power to change party control of the U.S. Congress several times this decade. Hasn’t gotten us the reforms we want yet, but it’s better than in Egypt.
Plus, in half the states and most cities, citizens can check government and inject reform into the political system through the initiative, referendum and recall.
Egyptians are struggling to get democracy; Americans should use what we’ve got.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.