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The victory elections

By Bruce Walker
web posted October 11, 2004

Within hours of each other, voters in two different nations have handed President Bush the clearest foreign policy victories yet. Democracy, as Vice President Cheney noted in his drubbing of Young Edward, is the surest path to peace.

Afghan men stand in line as they prepare to cast their vote in a polling station in the southern Afghani city of Kandahar on October 9
Afghan men stand in line as they prepare to cast their vote in a polling station in the southern Afghani city of Kandahar on October 9

The people of Afghanistan registered to vote in numbers which should make the silly Leftist "Rock the Vote" types positively ecstatic, if these Leftists were not congenitally opposed to any real improvement in the human condition.

Afghanistan, remember, was the nation that we could not liberate, the nation that could not be pacified, the nation that was once the British and the Russian quagmire and which would soon become the American quagmire too.

Not only did a huge percentage of the population register to vote, but they voted; they voted despite bad weather, despite decades of terrorism, despite very shallow democratic roots. The Afghans voted because they wanted to vote. The principle of democracy, not the particular results of an election or the irregularities alleged, are critical.

This is illustrated by how safe the world is within the realm of democracies. Despite our deep unhappiness and legitimate resentment with the attitude of the peoples of Germany, Spain, Canada, Sweden and other democracies, it is vastly better to have democratically elected Leftist governments in those nations than undemocratic governments of any sort.

The Social Democrat Party in Germany is effectively the minority party, and if it loses the next Bundestag election to the Christian Democrat Party (probably with the Free Democrat Party as a coalition partner) then the SDP will surrender power voluntarily.

Likewise, when the pro-American Spanish government lost because of Spanish cowardice in the face of terrorism, we should never forget that there was a peaceful, democratic exchange of power between two political parties which both wanted peace - as all major political parties in all functioning democracies always do.

Spain, like Germany, is a major success story in the second half of the Twentieth Century and first decade of the Twenty-First Century, when we take the long view of trends. We want Afghanistan and Iraq to be like Spain and like Germany. We should also understand that functioning democracies like Spain and Germany are not craven or foolish forever.

The counterpoint to the defeat of the Right in Spanish elections by the Left was the defeat of the Left at the other end of the Mediterranean in Greece as the hands of the Right. The counterpoint of terrorism contorting an election in Spain, to the disadvantage of the Right, was the historic Olympic Games in Greece, which took place without terrorism under a government of the Right.

We should, in fact, be gratified that people in Afghanistan and Iraq feel liberated enough to gripe - even though it is depressing ingratitude, the fundamental dynamic of people openly expressing their opinions is a vastly greater triumphant. Squabbling, nit-picking, whining and protesting represent the attitude of people who have begun to see themselves as free.

And, over time, the market of democracies does defeat wrong-headedness and selfishness. Recall that the Democrat Party is not distinctly the minority party in America. The worst case scenario for the current election cycle is that Kerry ekes out a narrow win, Democrats win microscopic majorities in the two houses of Congress, and that Democrats take full political responsibility for confronting terrorism over the next two or four years.

The vice presidential debate, the second presidential debate and the trend of polls indicates that President Bush will win reelection, Republicans will gain one or two Senate seats, and that the Texas redistricting tenacity will pay off in a net gain of Republican seats in the House. Is this too rosy a picture?

Perhaps not. Democracies have reacted quite differently to terrorism. The French have been, well, French. The Spanish reacted to terrorism badly, but like Israel, Spain is right next to the breeding grounds of terrorism. The Greeks moved Right and the Italians have stayed firm in their support for America.

The SDP in Germany has suffered an unending string of electoral defeats to the much more pro-American CDU, whose representative is now President of Germany (head of government.) The question is not "if" a government more sympathetic to the goals of President Bush governs the fourth largest economy in the world and greatest political in Europe, but "when" a more sympathetic government will gain power.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard celebrates after winning the federal election for a fourth consecutive term in Sydney on October 9
Australian Prime Minister John Howard celebrates after winning the federal election for a fourth consecutive term in Sydney on October 9

Most heartening, however, was the other election in the second week of October. The staunchly pro-American government of Australia, which had seemed in trouble, not only won the general election but also did much better than anyone expected. Perhaps no people on Earth more resemble Americans than Australians, and the guts and grit of the land of Mel Gibson has fought evil just as often as just as bravely, if less well noticed, as the land of John Wayne.

Democracy tames those who would be aggressors, like the Germans and Japanese once were but are no more, and democracy quietly strengthens those who oppose aggression, like Australians and Americans did together against Nazis, against Japanese imperialists, against North Korean invaders and against the North Vietnamese conquerors of South Vietnam.

So let us rejoice that democracy is alive in well in unaccustomed places like Mexico and Afghanistan, that it will soon take root - with all its beautiful messiness - in Iraq, and that it will soon tell the rest of the world that behind the man they like to mock as a "cowboy" are about fifty million free Americans who voted him into leadership of the only superpower on Earth for the next four years. Democracy works.

Bruce Walker is a senior writer with Enter Stage Right. He is also a frequent contributor to The Pragmatist and The Common Conservative.

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