Monday, January 31, 2005

Learning from Iraq

CNN.Com's article about the Iraqi elections

There have probably been hundreds of blogs that have had musings about what America can learn from Iraq. Most of those have probably been about what we can learn about not going to war too quickly or stuff like that.

That's not what this is about, though.

I think there's a better lesson for us to learn from the events of this past weekend.

By Sunday morning, we were hearing stories about long lines at polling places. Granted, there were some areas in Iraq where people were scared to leave their homes, but it sounds like that even in those areas, people showed up to cast their vote.

Although we don't have any definite numbers yet, it sounds like per capita, more Iraqis showed up to vote than Americans did in November.

We could learn something from Iraq.

Here, we've had 200+ years of democracy, and I think we take it for granted. On the radio yesterday, they played the sounds of Iraqis who were celebrating with cries of joy and who were dancing with the soldiers since they had been able to have a voice in who would govern them.

When was the last time you danced because you voted?

They said that in various towns and cities throughout Iraq, you could hear bombs going off in the backgroun and the sounds of gunfire and running battles as American and Iraqi troops fought the insurgents who vowed to "wash the streets with voters' blood" (see above link). Yes, people died as they went to go vote. Even more were threatened by the insurgents. And yet the Iraqis showed up anyway.

We Americans stay home and don't vote if the weather is a little drizzly. We get all up in arms about voter intimidation (as well we should), but as far as I can tell, American voter intimidation doesn't involve any violence, is usually done by guys in suits and ties with clipboards, and doesn't involve threats of washing the streets with anyone's blood. And yet Americans use it as an excuse to stay home and then whine about it. Iraqis brave the battles and stand in line, knowing that they are targets for honest-to-goodness violence, possibly even death, and they do so with joy to be part of a democratic process.

And no, I don't condone the American version of voter intimidation. Dirty tricks are no way to win an election. The point is, we Americans could learn a thing or two from our brothers and sisters in Iraq. We've got three years to see if we will.

Like I said, America can learn a thing or two from Iraq. Maybe the most important lesson is to take our responsibility

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