Egypt – It May Have Been A Mistake, But In A Democracy, You Solve Your Mistakes By Voting – 3 July 2013

Here’s someone else who thinks it’s different this time around. The last time it was about establishing a democracy. This time, it’s not clear whether the protesters are willing to respect the fact that they now actually have one, and that means that their energies should be going into running an electoral campaign to defeat a President they do not support, rather than bringing him down via the military.

I like especially this comment, which expresses well my feelings about the whole business: “Last night I tweeted a message to Egyptians: ‘Sometimes democracy means living with your mistakes until the next scheduled election.’ I took it down ten minutes later because I couldn’t stomach lecturing Egyptians, many of whom have suffered far more for democracy than me, on what democracy is about. But the message was true. Morsi should go. Those who want to replace him need to get themselves elected — not installed in the presidential palace at gunpoint.”

Unquestionably, I respect everything Egyptians went through two years ago, and have been going through since. But millions of people in Tahrir Square doesn’t matter when millions more are still willing to vote Morsi, or someone like him, back into power. In fact, a good quarter of Egyptians voted for parties well to the right of Morsi in the legislative elections. That’s a reality that can’t simply be wished away.

Right now, the plans, allegedly, are to hold a snap election. The real question is, will Morsi’s party, and other parties not associated either with the opposition or the Army and/or Mubarak loyalists, be allowed to participate? (For that matter, will those parties boycott those elections because of the perceived illegitimacy of the Army’s decision?) If the complaint before was that the Muslim Brotherhood had a coronation because no other parties were ready to take them on, because the main opponent in the presidential election was a Mubarak-era official, because, because, because…well, the opposition runs the risk of repeating that mistake the other way around. How likely is it that the Islamist parties are going to compete in an election a short time after a military takeover from the Morsi government? Probably not very.

I know, it looks like I can stomach a lot more than Maclean’s columnist Michael Petrou. This comes off like lecturing to a group of people who left the world breathless in their willingness to risk it all for freedom just two years ago. I’m sorry that it comes off that way – but here comes the lecture. It’s like most of my lectures, though – I’m not really trying to hector people…I’m trying to speak to those I consider my allies, and I just want them to consider what the impact of their actions is likely to be.

For me, there’s no spirit of Tahrir without democracy, and less likelihood for the human freedoms sought by the protesters of Tahrir without the principle of majority rule being respected.

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