Civil Discourse Now

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Egypt's "second spring" and celebration of the Fourth of July: are freedom and self-determination more important Egyptians?

   Candidates ran for office. They promised a certain approach to govern, amongst the most important  that the government would not be a theocracy and everyone would be considered equal. 2012 elections were won by a candidate for president whom people trusted to keep his word. Immediately he backtracked. He assumed "near-dictatorial power to enact a hastily written constitution---one that, Islamists crowed, lacked many basic right."  TribLive, 6/29/13. People, angry over this turn of events that ignored the beliefs and wishes of their votes, took to the streets. The people also were angry that the United States would continue to back the man elected, only a year ago, who acted in a way that betrayed concepts of liberty. The military---a constant presence that monitors government action and was, at the least, complicit in the removal of Mubarrek from office, again took action. The 48-hour deadline it gave the president passed. The military moved. President Mohamed Morsi was removed from office.

   Meanwhile, in the United States, the minority party of the two major political parties in our system, maintains a tenuous hold on power. Because it successfully gerrymandered districts after the last, 2010, census, it has ensured itself majorities in state assemblies where no majority for it exists in the particular state. Aided by a Supreme Court, several of whose members were nominated by a President who left office with favorability ratings lower than those of Richard Nixon shortly before Nixon's resignation, that has handed down rulings---Citizens United and last week's decision on Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act, the R's will solidify the hold of aging white people.In the meantime, legislation is blocked, money is funneled to the military instead of infrastructure, and not much seems capable of being done.

   e.e. cummings wrote: "A politician is an ass/upon which everything has sat except a man."

   Which country better exemplifies the "Spirit of '76"? The United States, where we have accepted the rule of people funded by corporations; people with greater concern for re-election than for the good of the people? Representatives who cannot secure enactment of legislation if it is favored by the president---unless, of course, it is legislation that grants sweeping tort immunity to Monsanto? And what about the President? I thought all that governmental secrecy would be anathema to a former professor of Constitutional law.

   If the people of this country took to the streets in the millions, as the people of Egypt have, so recently, in Cairo, let's face it: we would face tanks just like the guy in Beijing would held the shopping bags. Sad times, these are, when it would appear the people of Egypt are more free, and more interested in active protest than are the people of this country.  

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