SILVER LININGU.S. democracy and the power of change [Archives:2006/998/Opinion]

November 13 2006

Mohammed Al-Qadhi
People have been worried the death sentence passed against the former dictator of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, would be very influential in the U.S. midterm elections. I believe the verdict is just – the man devastated his country and brought misery to his people. If one looks back in history and reviews his memory and the catastrophes this arrogant tyrant created through his three decades of rule then people will realize he deserves his sentence. And therefore, this should be the end of such dictators and we pray to see more Arab States heads facing the same judgment.

My point here is the U.S. elections. The results have shown that even the death of Saddam would not any more convince the U.S. citizens of the goals of the Bush administration and the Republican party policy both domestically and internationally. The U.S. voters have realized the catastrophic labyrinth the Bush administration is leading them through with its radical and unclear policy; the need to bring the democrats on board. The elections have been, as Bush himself acknowledged, a referendum on his leadership and his war in Iraq.

I remember that I wrote an article here in defense of the U.S. democracy and its ability to put an end to chaotic policies like that of Bush when people started attacking it, calling it fake. It is not a fake democracy but a genuine one as the U.S. people changed the situation by voting for the democrats and bringing Bush and his party down to the ground. With the democrats in control of the Capitol, changes in the U.S. foreign policy, mainly with regards to the situation in Iraq and the war on terrorism, are expected soon. Now the Bush administration will be bound to democrat decision making and for sure, the Democratic Congress will give Bush a headache, setting the stage for a tumultuous two years ahead of the 2008 presidential election, particularly if Democrats make good on their vow to use their newfound power to hold hearings on the conduct of the war in Iraq and the slow response to last year's devastating Hurricane Katrina.

I hope this victory by the democrats will bring the confidence of the world community back to the liveliness of U.S. democracy, originally established by Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, so it can be a lighthouse for people all over the globe. The U.S. has been and, I am optimistic, it will continue to be the paradise lost for oppressed people all over the world.

Bush will go for good from the White House in two years. He cannot ask for longer, as it happens here in Arab states. He can only serve eight years. The Republicans have abused the trust granted to them by the U.S. citizens and therefore, they have been punished democratically.

Unfortunately, democracy in our countries, regardless of the elections we make, does not generate the change seen in the U.S. and Europe. Yemeni people are very much angry with the policy of the ruling GPC, but by the end of the day the ruling party wins parliamentary, local and presidential elections with sweeping majorities. This is the bizarre democracy and the model we have for the Middle East. It is the type of democracy that brought almost all the local councils secretary generals back to office, despite their failure in addressing the problems of the people since 2001.

I really wished to hear at least one of the opposition leaders quitting his position after their failure in the elections, at least to show respect to the people. But, nothing happened. Donald Rumsfeld, the former U.S. Defense Secretary, immediately announced his resignation after the defeat of his party; he knows it's his crazy policy, which embroiled the U.S. in trouble in Iraq and gave the impression of a growing U.S. empire, is the reason behind the loss by the republicans. But has any high ranking official resigned in our region to signal a recognition of failure?

To drive the point home, there is a big difference between a democracy able to change and hold officials accountable and a toothless and fake democracy that is not able to express people's choice who show an aspiration for a better policy and a better life. The Bush administration was severely punished for its poor policies according to the voter's perspective, but our elections were not able to bring down even the corrupt candidates of the ruling party in the local elections. You see the big gap!

Robin Madrid

Robin Madrid, the country representative of the National Democratic Institute office in Yemen, finished her term in office. This strong-minded woman has been one of the few foreigners who served in Yemen and had a great impact. She faced hard times during her service in Yemen, as she told me in one of my interviews with her, but could go overcome them and remain faithful to her mission and decision to help the country democratize. She really deserves our thanks and appreciation for her good job.

Mohammed Al-Qadhi ([email protected]) is a Yemeni journalist and columnist.