Iraqi democracy

Joe Reynolds

I have repeatedly used this space to lament the state of American idealism, and demonize compromise of conviction in search of the coalition of political alliances, but political evil is a relative concept, and at such a pivotal time in the history of the world, it deserves to be put in proper perspective.
As Congressional candidates launch misleading, specious attacks on their opponents, and sell out to countless interest groups in an effort to lap up whatever funds they can find or steal, the people of Iraq entered the voting booth and “chose” a president.
The Iraqi citizenry was faced with a very demanding obligation that required extensive philosophical soul searching and deep-rooted political ponderance. The ballot read like a veritable who’s who of Iraqi leadership.
Column one read: “Saddam Hussein.” Column two read: “Not Saddam Hussein.” After an early scare, Saddam was able to garner a reported 99.9 percent of the popular vote and earn another seven years atop the Iraqi government.
Some voters found it necessary to strike their ballots with their own blood, a display of solidarity that’s not so much appreciated as expected.
Towering murals, larger than life effigies of Saddam Hussein adorn Baghdad’s streets, and citizens stop to salute these monuments to not their leader nor their president, but to their unquestioned ruler and dictator. Modern Iraq operates under the guise of democracy, but any opposition to authority is met with swift and fierce brutality.
This undeniable evidence of oppression formulates the question of our time. Is it the responsibility of the United States to extend the grasp of democracy around the world and move to eliminate fascist regimes? The simple answer is no, but the issue is complicated, and commands no absolute truth.
It should not be the aim of the United States to “Americanize” the world. We cannot be so arrogant as to believe that our values alone enhance foreign societies. But America should be obliged to universally secure efforts toward the freedom of man.
We must allow for the presence of choice. We must help those who can’t help themselves – when help is asked for. America is not the arbiter or protector of democracy, but it should be the guarantor of opportunity.
As our leaders vehemently condemn authoritative rule, they must lead by example, and stand only on a foundation of belief. They must refuse to shift to the left, right or center to appease voters or construct domineering alliances. Ideology must be unapologetic if unrestrained leadership is to exist, and citizen sovereignty is to rule.