Thursday, July 9, 2009

I love the smell of democracy in the morning

Just read a great piece in the WSJ about the "dumbing down of democracy."  The author cites the example of Russian authorities (or should I say authoritarians) referring to their system as a "different kind of democracy" than what we have here in the good old US of A.  Well.  He could have just as easily used the Chinese example, where a government that is clearly authoritarian continues to play word games in asserting that they have a kind of democracy with Chinese characteristics (as if denial of basic civil and political rights were "characteristics" of a democratic system).  Surreal, yes.  Also dangerous, as the author points out: 

Letting genuine democratic aspirants in places like Iran and Honduras lose in front of a watching world will exact a price. The United States and the other John Locke democracies are in an active, long-term competition with fake democrats over whose politics governs the next century. And they will presume to choose which parties should run other counties.

There is the clear sense that anything the Bush administration did, the Obama sophisticates will not do. Does the fact that the Bushies pushed democracy mean it would be bad form to support even our own political system?

Over at The Corner, Jonah Goldberg makes many of the same points about Obama's antipathy toward democracy promotion: 

Again and again, the administration has made it clear that spreading freedom is so much ideological foolishness. Before the inauguration, he told the Washington Post that he was concerned with “actually delivering a better life for people on the ground and less obsessed with form, more concerned with substance.” There’s merit to this view in principle, though Obama seems to be thinking about “economic justice” more than a free society. But in practice, when American presidents say they don’t care about democracy, tyrants rejoice.

Which makes a nice segue to my Xinjiang piece in the Asia WSJ, and the comical-if-they-weren't-so-scary comments that the angry Chinese netizens have made.  I have always maintained that most Chinese seem to be missing the gene for irony.  I realize this is a horrible stereotype, but damn if they don't prove it true at every opportunity.  Hence, I am slammed by a bunch of nasty-grams from defenders of the Beijing regime, who are able to vent their spleen at me by virtue of the fact that they can take advantage of -- wait for it -- freedom of expression.

Maybe someday these poor unironic ninnies will figure it out.  Until then, I am going to double up on virus protection and enjoy the fireworks.
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