Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Democracy & the Truth

I noticed that the Wall Street Journal reported this morning that "Fatah survived a strong challenge by Hamas . . . " That just shows how completely unexpected the Hamas victory was . . . even the reporting on the exit polls didn't anticipate that Hamas was going to win. Even I was doing the double-takes ("What? Hamas won?!?") at the news.

I thought Bush reacted appropriately. It's not often that you find someone who understands the extremely high importance of democracy without also deifying it. Bush, who has been fighting a continuously unpopular war to promote democracy in the Middle East, has to respect the outcome of the election . . . but that doesn't mean that he has to respect Hamas. And he drew that distinction very well: Yes, the Palastinians want change . . . but just because a majority of Palastinians picked Hamas does not mean we have to deal with them.

Richard Rose was always harping on how "You can't discover the truth by democratic voting." That is, just because a majority of people believe it to be true, doesn't mean that it's true. And the same is true here. Yes, we have to respect the outcome of the election as the will of the Palestinian people. But that doesn't mean Hamas is right.

Of course, there will be lots of utilitarian realpolitik invoked to justify continuing a close relationship with Palestine. This administration will certainly withdraw or redirect an awful lot of aid to Palestine to keep it from going directly to Hamas . . . but unfortunately, Hamas isn't much afraid of that. One newly elected Hamas official said something to the effect of: "Aid is the only way the Americans can influence Palestinian politics, so we're glad that their money is going away." So, there's going to be a lot of juking and jiving to keep our influence in the region without dealing with their duly elected government. But I don't find such mechanations to be pointless, or hypocritical. Democracy is a great value, but not the greatest value.



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