Sunday, January 30, 2005

The Election in Iraq

Looking around at the various news sites and weblogs, the feeling out there is like a big celebation, with only a few party-poopers, on the Left, of course. Iraqis turned out to vote in numbers better than expected, and although there were violent incidents, and dozens of people killed, it wasn't as bad as expected. At least one polling station that I heard of didn't open up, and voting was light in Sunni areas -- although I'm seeing contradictory reports on that.

Now, these things are bad, but I think folks worried that there would be a bloodbath, with hundreds killed, or that Iraqis would stay away in droves, out of fear.

Somewhere in the depths of my American heart, I can't help but be touched by the stories of Iraqis proudly voting freely for the first time in their lives. But my more practical side knows that voting alone does not a democracy make. The results of the election have to be seen as legitimate by a solid majority of Iraqis, and it is too soon to tell if that's the case yet, or not. The reason that you and I, and the multitudes who deeply dislike our current president aren't rioting in the streets is that, at bottom, we accept the legitimacy of the system. We also have the faith that we will have the opportunity to make our voices heard again, at the ballot box, in a few years. If, however, significant numbers of Iraqis don't have that faith, and don't regard the election as legitimate, then that country is in big trouble -- and the party poopers would be right.

But, for right now, I feel like enjoying the moment.

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