Politics as a Gamble

And so here we are: the Egyptian Army, so recently giving voice to the hopes of thousands of struggling Egyptians, has chosen to use violence to dispel the supporters of ousted President Mursi.

In many ways, being a politically active adult is like being a gambler: you consider the odds, you listen to the chatter, but eventually it comes down to laying your chips on someone or packing up and going home. I was no fan of Mursi – I have profound misgivings about the future role of the Muslim Brotherhood – but he was elected and if Egyptians didn’t appreciate his policies they were free to send him home (or hobble his ability to mess things up) at the next election. We intentionally throw our government into gridlock all the time here in the US.

When the military stepped in to “resolve” the social unrest around Mursi’s leadership, though, it broke the fundamental rule of democracies. Now, “the will of the people” is a shambles. No one can participate fully in a “democracy” in which the wrong political opinions  will get you shot in the street. (Political actions, like violence, are another story.) No matter how dangerous an idea is, it deserved to be discussed, and Mursi had his supporters. Dozens of those supporters are now dead.

What is this? Is this the beginning of a sanctioned-ideology “democracy”? A military dictatorship? Or the installation of a more “appropriate” puppet? Whatever it is, it’s not good for those in Egypt who want to have a say in their government.

That’s why I feel bad for those who had hoped that the military coup could have led to a more equitable and free Egypt. They laid their bets on a candidate who let them down. Many people (not everyone, c.f. Anthony Weiner) can talk a good political game, but when the time comes to govern, that’s when we see whether our bets paid off. The Egyptians, unfortunately, seem to be playing in a rigged casino. The military has no intention of closing the house any time soon.

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