Sunday, March 06, 2005

Democracy Is Not a One-Day or Even One-Year Event

Readers have asked me why I haven't yet commented about the glories of the new Iraqi democracy and of moves toward democracy in the Middle East.

My response is that it's premature....democracy take times, and only after the passage of time will we be able to judge the depth and breadth of democratic reforms in Iraq and beyond.

Democracy is not a one-day, one-month or even one-year event. Like a good marriage, democracy takes patience, time, persistence, sacrifice and faithfulness. And it takes continual vigilance.

From American Progress Action....

"One election does not a democracy make. Though elections are a necessary component of democracy; elections alone are not sufficient to having democracy. Building a true democracy also requires a solid economic infrastructure, political institutions, a fair judiciary, and an engaged civil society. Afghanistan held elections in September, but drug-production levels reached their highest levels in 2004, and most of the country is still not secure. Ethiopia, which held elections in 2000, is still struggling with major human-rights violations, and killings of opposition leaders.

Though free and fair elections are vital to any democracy, what happens the day after those elections is equally important; democracy building is a long-term process and requires our enduring support and assistance.

The Bush Administration's rhetoric does not match reality. The Bush administration has consistently underfunded democracy programs. In the administration's 2006 budget, Bush requested $30 million less for the upcoming fiscal year for the Middle East Partnership Initiative, a program designed to promote freedom in the Middle East. He also proposed cuts to both the U.S. Agency for International Development's global democracy account and the State Department's global human rights and democracy fund.

Furthermore, he has consistently downplayed the importance of democratic reform in his interactions with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. Moreover, the administration has remained a supporter of autocrats in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Central Asia. "

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