That brings us back to Bush’s democratization policy. It fell short, in my opinion, by emphasizing the holding of elections rather than the process of nurturing democratic habits and building democratic institutions that guarantee basic human rights to all. Recall how Hamas came to power in Gaza in 2006: The U.S. facilitated an election campaign and allowed Hamas, an armed terrorist militia, to pretend it was just a political party. Hamas restricted fundamental rights and freedoms even during the campaign. That led to an election featuring one man, one vote — one time. Since Hamas’s victory, there has been no serious discussion of holding another election in Gaza and Gazans enjoy no rights, though they do enjoy some entitlements courtesy of European and American taxpayers. During Bush’s final two years in office, the Freedom Agenda withered on the vine.
I agree. I’m afraid that elections in Egypt will just end up as mob rule. Without a constitution (and a system that protects it) in place that guarantees certain freedoms a democracy is not going to make things any better. George W. Bush seems to have not emphasized that enough. The right to vote is only one part of freedom. Freedom of religion, of speech, of self-determination, of thought, of assembly, to disagree, to own property, to defend yourself…. all these are essential for a free society. May Egypt and all other Middle Eastern countries head down this path.