Read More Joe Hoenick
By Joseph J. Honick
Feb. 6, 2006
The idea that voting somehow gives automatic birth to democracy is not only a myth, but a dangerous one at that. It is but the beginning of democracy. In fact, even the word "democracy" gets tossed about promiscuously even here in the United States.
It should also be remembered that Adolph Hitler was in fact elected to office in a free and democratic election.
Certainly, no one who favors freedom should ever discount the critical importance of the individual's right to vote. However, the fact of the act when it brings forth theocracies or exposes the winners to be dictators and underminers of peace does not automatically translate to democracy simply because it occurred.
Many conservatives are quick to assert that we live in a Republic, not a democracy.
We have now learned that the passionately hoped for results in the Palestinian elections did not bring forth what we would like fondly to call a democracy but street fighting and the declarations of the winning side to be an even greater terrorist state in the already explosive Middle East.
It should also be remembered that, even when the Founders wrote the Declaration of Independence and for generations afterward, the idea of one person one vote still did not exist even as the American democracy blossomed. It took a Constitutional amendment to make it possible for women to vote. It took powerful effort to help African-Americans gain the right to vote without the humiliation of Jim Crow laws.
So, ultimately, voting just begins the march to democracy. In the cases of numerous nations, principally in the Middle East, it is more a stumble than a realistic step toward freedom. Many cultural realities stifle real freedom as in the case of certain Muslim countries where religion rather than democratic rights and privileges rule the day.
Certainly the newly victorious Palestinian Hamas party is hardly likely to permit the kinds of freedoms that exist in the U.S. or its unconditionally declared target for destruction, Israel.
In the end, all political propaganda about how courageous voters in Iraq and elsewhere have made their ways to the ballot boxes and have their fingers dipped hardly defines the future for democracy – unless those who oppose the victors in elections are also granted the freedom to protest and gain redress for restraints on their freedom.
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Joe Honick is a contributing columnist to Huntington News Network and President of GMA International Ltd.