Monday, April 28, 2008

Democracy Shmocracy: A Kuwaiti Story

We are only 19 days away from elections as the country heats up, more electoral headquarters open, and people filter down their last few candidates. Tonight is the opening of Al-Tahaluf Al-Watani which is the viewed as the liberal party in the race. Liberal here does not mean the same as it does in the United States. In America, Liberal is the direct opposition of Conservative. Here in Kuwait, Liberal is set as the opposite of Political Islam. While it can still be referred to as such, anyone who knows who Rush Limbaugh is should know that Kuwaiti Liberalism is closer to a mesh of Republican economic policies with the Democrats humanitarian agenda, so I am not sure if Rush would even bother giving it airtime. Yesterday was the opening of Khaled Al-Sultan who is the head of the Seleffy organization, one of the two (perhaps three if you include Al-Umma) Political Islam groups in Kuwait and a respected leader among those circles across the Arab world.

What a wide range we enjoy in Kuwait. You have the leftists the extreme rightists and everything in between. Democracy, competition, and increased focus on corruption have made this election more issues-focused than any previous one we have ever experienced. You talk to one person, and say will you vote for Joe Shmoe? He'll ask "Where does Joe Shmoe stand on increasing minimum wage?" My previous post about transition covered the change Kuwait is facing. So what's the problem? Aren't things becoming better?

I talked to a coworker of mine and asked him: "How are the elections with you? You fired up?". Keeping in mind that this person is at least ten years my senior, he replied "Oh I don't watch that garbage, I'm not registered". Wait a second…how can he not be registered? I mean granted, there are a few people out there who falsely believe that their failure to play a role in change is the same as protesting the current situation and choose not to vote. This person has never registered. He went through college, worked for years and years and just refused to take part in the democratic process. I asked him why, and this was the conversation we had:

Middle Aged Boss Man: There is no such thing as real democracy. Not even in the United States (I love that someone who has never lived in the US thinks they understand it like its Adailiya). Oh don't get me wrong…the US has freedoms. Freedoms and democracy are not the same.

Saracen: Ok…then what type of system would you like for Kuwait?

Middle Aged Boss Man: I think we have to have one supreme ruler who can make the decisions for all the country. He is the final word and we obey. Everything is at a halt because of the Parliament and the problems they caused throughout the year. Look at Dubai…because it’s a one man show, their leader can go invest tons of money where ever he wants and the people don't have a say.

Saracen: Yeah, but what about you? What about your voice? The Parliament is the watchful eye of the people, making sure that the forces of corruption stay in check so that Kuwait can remain beautiful. Are you happy with just being a passenger?

Middle Aged Boss Man: There is no such thing as Democracy! This is not democracy, this is a farse.

Saracen: What if someone came and said that our current conversations is against the law? What if someone came and said that your daughter is not allowed to receive an education. Or because your son doesn't do well at school, he has to be moved to a school of lesser caliber. Who will you go to?

Middle Aged Boss Man: I don't need to go to anyone. The ruler decides and we obey. Listen Saracen, we are behind and its all because of these individuals. Anyone who is actually good and is running for Parliament is STUPID, excuse my language. If they were really good, they would not run."

Saracen: Ok, well that's how you see it…but wait a second. You never registered? I would understand if you were disenchanted with the current situation just because of crisis after crisis…but what about before?

Middle Aged Boss Man: I believe in one man rule. Democracy Shmocracy.

My opinion is and will always be that the worse Parliament is better than no Parliament at all. If you are one of those who believe that there is in fact no one worth voting for, than practice your obligation in selecting the lesser of all evils. However, with the selection of political views and the array independents that are in each electoral district, don't hide behind undeveloped and uneducated understanding of democracy. Don't justify laziness by sounding some grand view of anti-Democracy mumbo jumbo. Its sad and pathetic and we're on to you.

What we are all supposed to be...


eshda3wa said...

i had the same exact conversation with a few people yesterday who are antidemocracy!

Im still shocked to find out people would rather live under a dictator.

i was about to write a post on this issue, but ill just tell u here.

When my roommates mom was here i asked her who she plans on voting for, and my roommate happily answered i told her not to vote for anyone


lana mafe a7ad kafo.

so i said ok, lets say ur rite, and out of all the ppl running in ur district no one is kafo. But the fact remains ina min hal ppl are going to be in parliment. shouldnt you atleast vote for someone that u think has half a brain cell? the lesser of two evils?

then the mom answered, laa ana mabe a9awet because it takes too long to wait, and you move from one chair to the next, like ur plaing musical chairs at a kids party.

at that point i wanted to shoot myself.

thats no excuse, elkuwait testahal nogaf 2-3 hours 3ashanha!

a lot of bloggers say they will not vote, and that is just sad.
You would think people would care about this country.

And i really do believe if your not part of the solution, then ur part of the problem!

eshda3wa said...

and im sorry for the long comment

i was tempted to continue but made myself stop!

eshda3wa said...

oh and a question.. do you really think
"You have the leftists the extreme rightists and everything in between. "

cz i dont see the in between. And that makes my life so much harder.

i want someone thats moderate, and i cant seem to find that person!

eshda3wa said...

i should stop posting comments now


1001 Nights said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
1001 Nights said...

5osh 5osh 5osh post. I agree with eshda3wa about the I don't see a lot of in between though.
Democracy as it is applied today be it in Kuwait or in the US most certainly has its drawbacks and it's definitely a flawed system. Unfortunately it seems to be the best "system" out there.
The way I see it though, the goal for me when I think of a system that I would want my country to have is twofold:
1.My basic human right is protected – basic human right includes me having some say in the decision making process with regards to how my country is run. (I see it as a matter of pride...what people can claim they are a proud people if they don't have a say in how their own homeland is run?)
2.There is betterment, improvement, just generally good management.

Having said that, these two goals do at times negate each other. I for one would not support a bolstering of democracy in Kuwait AT JUST ANY COST.

Q80 Saracen said...

Eshda3wa: LOL...hehe...I really laughed when I saw this chain of thoughts you've strung up together. You can comment as much as you like, as many times as you like...and yes, "Hahahaha" qualifies as a comment...Now for the issues:

Its sad that people feel that way. In all honesty though...I feel that its that much sadder when its women. Al7een ma sadagow 3la Allah 7asalow they want to abstain from voting? I really believe people who don't vote should be taxed like they do in Europe...Its not in my interest to do so because anyone who is forced to go vote may not chose well...but its a national duty in my book. Oh kalam fathee when they say makoo a7ad...there are a lot of decent options in the first three districts. Is Obama there? Or even Clinton? No...but give us time, we are still young and inshallah we will get there...

Justifying laziness...its a little sad. Allah iy7afeth li Kuwait.

On the part about "Everything in between"...I don't mean that there is a party, per say, that represents the Kuwaiti Muslim voter...or the average Joe Shmoe if you will...I was referring to those who buy votes, and those do services and have no real political platform.

I'm optimistic though...there are a few good candidates that I think can create the dynamic that Kuwait desperately needs... ;-)

Lone Ranger'ess said...

wht really gets to me are those that say ina maku a7ad kafa2a, when in reality they haven't even put themselves out there in search of the most suitable candidate in the playing field..

these false assumptions can influence certain individuals..

Q80 Saracen said...

1001 Knights: Thanks for the compliments. Keep em coming! Lol. I agree with you when it comes to basic human rights. Its part of the reason why democratic countries produce less terrorists. Instead of going to the extreme, they have vehicles in place to express discontent. As for Democracy at any cost...well if we were to take that argument, then some of us would disagree with what's happening in Iraq. I don't...I think they're paying a high price for democracy but that they will be the better for it in the longterm. More importantly, we will be better off with a democratic Iraq. In any case, thank God we in Kuwait are more advanced in terms of democracy and the cost of it is known to all.

Lone Ranger'ess: I find that most people who have the view expressed in my post have yet to go to one Nadwa, or flip the channel to an election debate. The energy it takes to get involved is overwhelming to them, so their fuse short circuits and the feed us the crap about democracy being flawed. How a person can prefer being a sheep is beyond me...Fee wayed moorasha7een kafa2a...bes laazim il wa7id yit3amal ib nisba ow tanasub and you have to find the one who suits your view the most. In all cases, get involved. LiKuwait tistaahil.

Aggz The Aggressor said...

I would like to admit that, after reading your post, I almost believed that "I" was the person you conversed with, since I myself only registered a few weeks ago!

What changed me is already up on my post, but i'd like to thank you for making me feel that more positive of my decision to finally join the Kuwaiti Political process

eshda3wa said...

come onnn saracen!!

expecting a post on the outcome of elentikhabat!!