Thursday November 22, 2012

On this Thanksgiving Day, we can be thankful that the 2012 election campaign, which began early in 2011, ended earlier this month. It was often ugly, rarely enlightening. But while it is easy to be cynical about our electoral process, we should also be thankful that we can settle our differences at the polling booth and not with bloodshed. Not every nation is so lucky.

In the perennially tumultuous Middle East, Israel remains the only country with a true democracy in which voters can go to the polls without fearing that their vote will be stolen -- or worse -- that they will be arrested or shot. Neighboring Egypt had a Kabuki theater version of democracy under Hosni Mubarak, a dictator who long manipulated the electoral process as his nation’s alleged duly elected president, and while the Arab Spring resulted in the election of a Muslim government, the military is working to undermine it.

Iran’s "democracy" is a sham as the nation is truly governed by its religious leaders. Religious discord threatens Iraq’s fledgling democracy. The Middle East must replace its dictatorships -- including those that pretend to be democratic -- with true democracies if its nations are finally to achieve peace.

On Tuesday, President Obama visited Myanmar, also known as Burma, whose leaders are tentatively experimenting with democracy after years of brutal military dictatorship. That nation’s future as a democracy is uncertain but the example of Nobel Prize-winning opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who met with the president in Yangon, provides hope for democracy activists everywhere.

In America, thankfully, people have a government that will come to their aid in time of need, not afflict them with misery. The much-maligned Federal Emergency Management Agency came to the assistance of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut after Hurricane Sandy roared through, devastating the coasts, in ways that the states cannot do individually. While Texas is once again making noise about secession -- which won’t happen -- we predict it will once again be looking for assistance from the federal government Texans so despise the next time a major storm roars in off the Gulf of Mexico.

When that assistance arrives, they will be thankful. Which we should all find reason to be today.