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Democracy will not be automatic.

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We must work to preserve Democracy.  Freedom and liberty under a constitution do not come easily, nor will a nation endure without care-taking and effort.  We in the United States have lost something of our constitutional democracy since the turn of the century.  And people in the Middle East stand to gain much if democracy can prevail after their “Arab Spring.”

The Arab Spring did not produce a set of Democratic governments.  Although Tunisia probably has the best chance of living under a democratic regime.  Syria is still in the midst of a civil war.  Women’s roles have come under question in all countries in the Middle East.

Civil liberties protections for U.S. citizens took a beating over the years, following the Bush administration’s response after the attacks on the U.S. on 9/11/01. The U.S. government has become more and more intrusive into our everyday lives.  Even now the Obama administration is pressing for the renewal of the (FISA) Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Expectations of Democracy as a result of nation building were the hallmark of the previous Bush-Cheney administration. We came to know Neocons back then as they pursued their aggressive war agenda. They continued to have influence in the 2008 campaign. And now they still have not gone away; they are advising Mitt Romney on foreign policy.

Our political parties are less able to work together; they are becoming much more polarized.  The rise of the extreme right wing makes widespread repression of citizens’ rights possible.   The government of Michigan has actually taken a turn away from Democracy.  City after city in Michigan is now run by a governor-appointed administrator.

The Occupy movement showed much promise when it began last year. A wide variety of citizens joined the protests. Recently, however, at the NATO summit in Chicago, protesters were not as numerous as some had expected.  The movement has not found its footing yet.

Democracy is not automatic.  We cannot take it for granted that the people of any country will be able to achieve to their full potential.  And we do not easily learn from our mistakes.   One of the keys to building and holding democratic institutions is the election process. The United States and several countries in the Middle East are looking towards electing their next leaders.  The best outcomes will be where citizens know what is at stake and what leadership is really all about.


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