Democracy is genuinely a great concept – in theory. Only a truly gifted orator can successfully argue against a system that gives each member of a society an equal opportunity to actively participate in government.
Unfortunately, democracy is strictly a beautiful creation in theory.
In practice, democracy has proven to be an ugly fantasy that warps truths and can easily cost many people their lives. As the U.S. presence in Iraq has proven, democracy is a dangerous entity that cannot be taken lightly.
On Jan. 30, the Iraqis will have the awesome task of proving to the world whether they can overcome those who pursue evil actions to silence their voice. The Iraqi election will set a precedent for the global presence of democracy. An outpouring of Iraqi citizens exercising their newly acquired right to vote will be a glorious occasion. However, this will only highlight our poorly established style of American democracy.
We cannot get half of the eligible voting population to cast their ballots in national or civic elections. For a country with 200 years of democratic experience, it will only serve as a reminder that we do not appreciate the rights and privileges that we apparently assume the rest of the world should embrace. There would not be sufficient justification for our complacency toward our civic duty if the voting population of Iraq, who are being threatened with death, overshadows us in voter turnout percentage.
A large Iraqi turnout would also seem to support an overwhelmingly misguided belief that the Bush administration has been certain to shove down the throats of the global citizenry: violence can beget peace.
Despite my desire for a peaceful resolution of the Iraqi conflict, I am firmly set against the concept that under any circumstance you can bring unbridled joy and success through violent means.
I am further concerned that the Iraqi election may spiral into a vast state of disarray with hundreds or thousands of people dead because they either attempted or succeeded in exercising their right to vote. This would only serve to discourage citizens under the Iraqi and other fledgling democratic governments from participating in the process.
This type of blow would not only seriously retard global democracy but also criticize the power and integrity of the United States and its military prowess. If we fail to provide adequate protection for a small Middle Eastern country, we cannot expect to hold on to our silly American idealism that sets us apart as the world’s police force.
Unfortunately, if we lose that position, we are in more grave danger than any of us would care to fathom.
I also fear that the Iraqi people will be too frightened by poor U.S. military protection and constant insurgent threats to make a concerted effort to vote. If this does occur, the U.S. efforts in Iraq may be sufficiently and accurately labeled as a failure. This would mean that hundreds of soldiers have died and hundreds of Iraqi children have been orphaned in vain.
This would mean that hundreds of people expecting democracy to change their lives for the better would be left without hope or dreams for a better life.
Ultimately, I hope the Iraq election turns out okay. Not great. Not a resounding failure. Just okay.
Democracy is still a great theory that has not had a chance to be truly realized anywhere in the world. Hopefully, the Iraqi election will add fuel to the democratic fires.
Jason E. Hutchins is a senior business administration student from Athens, Ga. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org