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Friday, July 5, 2013

What Egypt can tell us about ourselves and what might be coming.

"This is uncharted territory. This is really new. I would not be surprised also that it would lead many people to give up on democracy. To say there is something wrong with this elite. There is something wrong with this political system. And maybe the time has come, yet again, to resort to violence."

-Khaled Fahmy 
American University of Cairo

The coup in Egypt, to remove its democratically elected President (their first ever) seems like something that has very little to do with the Western world. We don't do such things over here, right? The fact is that we do, or did, and although we think it couldn't happen here, could it?
President Obama came in to power in 2008 with great promises and hope for a change in the way things were done. Many agree he has completely failed at that, for whatever reason. Whether he actually has noble intentions and is fighting the well intentioned, but losing battle or is just part of the establishment problem could be debated. But, the bottom line is this:
Many of us think that it doesn't matter if you vote or not. They are all bought and paid for. Crooked. On both sides of the political spectrum. The situation seems hopeless.
What might happen in a scenario like that?
Could a coup happen in the Western world, more specifically in Canada or The United States?
In Canada, very unlikely. We are just too polite, peaceful and law abiding to do that sort of thing en mass.

But in the States? I think so. It is possible. I wouldn't have said that 20 or so years ago. Now, I do think it is heading that way. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but at some point when things get so bad that the masses figure they have nothing to lose, like they did in Egypt. Hopefully, this is a wake up call to those American Congressmen, Senators, Governors and the rest to take note that if you keep doing what you are doing, you aren't as safe as you think.
I doubt that is the case, but unrest is growing. I see it everyday and it gets worse every year. More and more, it isn't just the usual suspects. Now, it is the middle class. The new poor, the ones who never even contemplated that they would lose their jobs, houses and good life en mass as they are now. When you add them to the already massive poor who feel they have nothing to lose, and are just looking for a cause (like the 99 percent movement) to latch on to, it becomes a real possibility.

America has a history of this sort of thing. The country was formed because of a Tea Party revolt in the 1770's. They fought a bloody and long war in the 1860's over the right for slavery and freedom in which more than 700,000 died. They rioted in the 1960's in places like Detroit and Los Angeles and many other places. But nothing is like the decimation we see today. A systematic decimation of jobs and way of life for most people, excluding the few who are skimming off the top, legally.
When the populace begins to believe that the elected leaders are using the system, and laws, against them instead of for them, then they lose all respect for the laws, powers, institution and generally accepted ways of sorting out these things. Like in Egypt, they simply think that anarchy is the only answer and will take whatever steps (even if they are bloody and violent, which they will have to be) to rectify that.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

 For the people? By the people? It just doesn't seem to be anything close to that anymore. We all accept that there has always been some corruption and backroom dealing. Some outside interference and monetary influence by those that have selfish, personal interests that go completely against the actual interests of the general populace and good of the country. But that line has long been crossed and is now grossly out of whack. 

What happens when the populace believes that a "democratically elected leader" isn't really that at all?

"We elect these people and then as soon as they are in, they go back on all their promises." 

-from an Egyptian woman in Tahrir Square

The Koch brothers don't like the laws that restrict them from being major water and air polluters, so they fund research that claims that climate change isn't valid. And they support candidates that will vote down any legislation. And they use that research they bought and paid for to justify it. None of us buy that.

Monsanto makes GMO's and funds anybody that will vote against labeling to inform the public.

Walmart pays its employees less than a living wage and then games the system into covering the difference, so they can line their pockets with bigger profits at the expense of the general tax paying public. And then they support those in power who make sure that continues to happen.

Big Oil. We could go all day on how they game the system and get away with murder while they line the pockets of those who were "democratically" elected to look out for us and stop them.

Lobbyists. They pretty much write the laws that get passed, word for word. And nobody ever elected them to do anything.

NRA. The NRA singlehandedly has gone against the public will with gun laws by threatening to take any elected government official down if they don't look after the NRA's interests first and foremost.

The question is now what will people do about it when they think they have no hope otherwise, like they did in Egypt?
Perhaps the better question is not what they will do, but when will they do it.

To think that we are different than them is foolish. We are human, just like them, and as civilized as we think we are, if we get backed into a corner and feel there is no other option, we will come out fighting for our lives.

I am not an anarchist. I am a realist. I would rather we create a new system that works. Peacefully and using our minds to make sure that the system works as it was intended to by the founding fathers and Abraham Lincoln. But, I know better. It just doesn't seem like it is possible anymore. The special interests just have too much power to let that happen. And won't. Not without brute force stopping them.

I can see this coming. It will come, if we don't somehow clean up the way we run our society. To keep saying that people will just continue to throw up their hands and do nothing but accept corruption and a political system that doesn't really work for anybody but the influence peddlers is both foolish and dangerous. Egypt showed us that this week. They won't be the last, and as this spreads it will only get closer to home  until it is arriving at home. People see things and they get ideas. If they can do it, we can do it.

In his piece, entitled “Defending the Coup,” Brooks offers up the standard “burn the village to save it” argument for subverting democracy. That’s not what’s interesting – nor is his omission of the entire 30-year history of the U.S.-backed dictatorships in Egypt, and how that might make a transition to democracy a bit bumpy. Those facile theories and omissions are standard fare in the establishment media – irritating, offensive, but hardly newsworthy.
What is newsworthy is the Times publishing a column which uses those theories and omissions to then forward an argument that reads like a hysterical manifesto from a 19th century eugenicist. Here’s what I mean (emphasis added):
Right now, as Walter Russell Mead of Bard College put it, there are large populations across the Middle East who feel intense rage and comprehensive dissatisfaction with the status quo but who have no practical idea how to make things better…
It’s not that Egypt doesn’t have a recipe for a democratic transition. It seems to lack even the basic mental ingredients.

To just discount these Egyptians as ignorant, or the American people as ignorant, is foolishness. It is, however, a common tactic of the talking heads who think they know better and are above us all.

The reality is that people know bullshit, lies, deception and corruption when they see it. You don't need to go to Harvard or write for The New York Times to figure that out.
American government and power brokers should see the events in Egypt this week for what they are. A warning sign to clean up their act before the populace decides to wake up and clean it up for them. It will be a lot more pleasant if they act now, rather than waiting for the angry masses to knock on their doors. Because the angry masses won't just knock, they will break that door down. And an angry mob is much nastier to deal with than a negotiated, peaceful, fair settlement.

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