Voting's Not All Its Cracked Up to Be

I have said many times that protection of individual liberties is a far more important metric for the quality of governments than the quality of a country's elections.  We are about to get an object lesson in this in Egypt, where a really marvelous, open, and transparent election is going to lead to enormous losses of individual liberties, particularly for women.


  1. andre:

    This is democracy in action.

    Democracy is 2 coyotes and 1 lamb voting on what to have for dinner.

    Nor can you take this out of the context of the culture. As I read a few years back, when the Palestinians are given the choice of freedom or kill Jews, they will vote to kill Jews every time.

  2. RandomReal[]:

    Apropos to this discussion, a quote from Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance:

    If a revolution destroys a systematic government, but the systematic patterns of thought that produced that government are left intact, then those patterns will repeat themselves in the succeeding government. There's so much talk about the system. An so little understanding.

    --p. 122 HarperTorch Paperback edition

  3. Roy:

    Hmmmm. Almost sounds like a recognition that intelligence and awareness do not alone provide a foundation for freedom. A conclusion similar to that proclaimed by not a few of USA's Founding Fathers. Something about morality, specifically something about, well, not only religion, but which religion....

  4. Dan:

    Two thoughts:

    Not sure how many individual liberties people had in Egypt up to this point anyway, so the election might not change much in that respect, sad though it may seem. Of course, women would indeed fare worse under Islamists than they did under Mubarak.

    Also, it's fair to point out that Obama encouraged elections and this was the result. As a reminder, GW Bush pushed elections in Gaza, and they ended up being won by Hamas.

    The lesson is, elections in the
    Middle East are not necessarily a good thing. It sounds heartless to say, but I was happier when the region was ruled by strongmen who may have been weak on individual rights but kept regional peace and allied with the U.S. and even Israel on key issues. Now we have a huge mess on our hands.

  5. Ted Rado:

    Unfortunately, it appears that we will be right back to the old problem: do we support a stable dictatorship or help create chaos? There is nothing in the history of that part of the world that suggests that anything resembling an honest and democratic regime is possible. We live in a dream world if we believe it will happen.

  6. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA):

    People who continue to await a "Muslim Reformation" remain irrelevant to realities in that part of the world. Islam had its Reformation two generations ago. It failed.

    For the last generation the counter-Reformation has been in full ascendancy and becomes increasingly harsh and brutal with each passing year. Take a look at these photos from the University of Cairo. As late as 1978, not a veil to be seen.

    The vast majority of women in the 2004 photo had their clits forcibly cut out as young girls because sexual pleasure is to be for the man only.

    There will be no Muslim Reformation. Islam now descends into a darker and darker night of tribalism, oppression of women, anti-intellectualism, violence, horror and ignorance.

    Our best hope at this point is that we're currently living in the Muslim equivalent of Wycliffe's failed attempt at Reformation in the mid-14th Century. Though he translated the Bible into English, he paid for it with his life, and it took six more generations before the real Reformation was well under way.

  7. Gil:

    Hell Muslims will outpopulate many parts of the world, esp. Europe. Hence demographics and by extension democracy works.

  8. Dan:

    Sad to say, but it doesn't seem like the Muslim world is ready for democracy. Give it to them and they immediately vote to have it taken away.

  9. NormD:

    According to WHO, as of 2008, 91% of Egyptian women had undergone female circumcision

    Does not seem like they had any real freedom to lose.

    I am not a fan of Islam, but I do not see how any outcome other than an Islamic government is/was possible in a place like Egypt.

    Many (most?) people will only learn by actually getting their wish and discovering that reality does not match theory. Hopefully the Islamists will go peacefully when the voters decide to vote them out.

  10. Dan:


    I assume your last sentence was meant to be facetious.

    Once the Islamists are in power, whatever the country, the only way to get rid of them is through war (see Afghanistan). Can anyone think of another country that was ruled by these hating SOBs that ever saw them peacefully yield power in an election?