Category Archives: Politics

Politics

Egypt

How do you organize? How do you sustain momentum? In a place with no opposition and no members of the government who diverge from the leadership, where do you find the leaders of a new direction? How will democratic representation work? Who asks these questions beyond just ousting Mubarak and his confidantes? How do you create something for the future that can be stable? This is very hard.

It doesn’t seem to be about the United States or Israel even as both are decried. It is about the pent up dissatisfaction of Egyptians with the example of Tunisia to emulate.

Some worry that Mubarak has maintained the peace with Israel and that democracy could bring in Islamists with strong aversion towards Israel and the US. But, democracies usually want peace with their neighbors. Islamists IN a democracy should not worry us. Only Islamists taking over the democracy and co-opting it should worry us. A real democracy likely will include Islamic parties. But when the views of the people are really being expressed they will remove any forces that usher in a new kind of repression. So, we should welcome real democracy.

Mohamed ElBaradei may be the best person to form a transitional government. Standing up to the US during the Iraq WMD standoff earned him credibility among Arabs. He was tough with Saddam Hussein and is a skilled and disciplined technocrat with deep experience in dealing with western governments. We should not be confused by the view of the Bush administration in the days leading up to the Iraq invasion, which was tainted by the distortions of Cheney and Rumsfeld who rejected anyone who didn’t support their delusions. ElBaradei did not appease Saddam Hussein nor did he trump up the case that Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld wanted.

Do Tunisia and Egypt start a domino effect among other repressive Arab regimes? “It may not be tomorrow or a few months but I’m sure it is like dominoes. Before there was always an ideology – pan-Arabism or being an enemy of Israel. But now people are simply looking for their personal freedom, for food, education, a good life. The days of ideology are over” said Mazen Darwich of the Syrian Centre for Media.

This is a time to help establish democratic legitimacy in the Middle East. The US should avoid the mistakes of defending dictators who support our diplomatic policies and manipulating democracy as an ideology that only support US aims, so undermining the legitimacy of democracy for the people who aspire to it.

Politics

Democratic Disarray

The Republicans are “on message.” The Democrats are in disarray. Today on NPR, Senator Lamar Alexander corrected the interviewer by saying repeatedly that the Senate is debating a “tax increase, not a tax cut because the Democrats would be increasing the tax rates that are already in place.”

Now, how does Senator Alexander get away with such dissimulation? Why doesn’t every Democrat reply, “Bush passed a big tax cut in his first year in office in 2000. What happened to the economy over the next 8 years? It was demolished with the second worst decline in history, second only to the Great Depression. Why do Republicans claim the tax CUT was good for the economy? Did it work? Look at what happened–Bush destroyed the US economy. It’s been in place eight years. It didn’t work. Republicans can’t claim the tax cut creates jobs. We saw what happened for 8 years of Bush.”

Democrats should repeat this over, and over, and over, and over. Repetition does not hurt the message; it helps. Simple, direct, factual, and emphatic. Make it hurt.

But, with leadership like Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, the absent Tim Kaine, and the White House operating without leading, what can we expect.

It’s simple: Repeat after me. Bush pushed tax cuts in 2000. What happened during the next eight years? The economy tanked and the deficit ballooned. Bush destroyed the budget and the economy. Republican policy failed, period.