As we watch the events play out in Egypt we can’t help but marvel at the smooth transition of power that we take for granted here in the United States.
Three years ago the Egyptian people rose up in protest against a brutal dictator. The military stepped in. But instead of quashing the rebellion they sided with the people and removed the dictator from power. The military ran the country, badly we might add, for about a year until free elections could be held. A new president and parliament were voted into power and a new constitution drafted.
Now barely a year later, the Egyptian people have once again become dissatisfied with their ruler. Unemployment is high, food lines are long and fuel is scarce. Twenty two million Egyptians, roughly a quarter of the population, sign a petition calling for their newly elected president to step down. The military once again steps in. They give the president 48 hours to craft a peaceful solution with the protestors or step aside. When the president refuses the military removes him from power and suspends the constitution. They appoint a temporary civilian ruler to run the country until free elections can be held.
Contrast this scenario with transition of power here in the world’s lone super power.
Every four years elections are held. The newly elected president places his hand on the bible and promises to uphold the constitution. The incumbent shakes his hand, boards a helicopter and flies off into the sunset.
The newly elected president peacefully assumes the reigns of the most powerful office in the world. On many an occasion he is elected by a very small margin; frequently receiving less than 50% of the vote. During his term there will be heated disagreements over his policies. Yet he will remain in power until his term is concluded. Then and only then will the people, not the military, by their vote decide if he deserves a second term.
The Egyptian society has been around for centuries. The United States…about a minute and a half.
There are certainly a lot of things that we could do better in this country. We offer our criticism in this space on a daily basis.
However the peaceful way in which we transfer the reins of power in this country is truly a marvel, and something in which we should be proud for all the world to witness.