Can Egypt Become a Better Democracy than the US?

We have a few voice topics going over at Vaestro on this. I’d like to know what you dopers think.

Will Egypt become Democratic and if so, what should it do differently than the USA?

Both are huge questions.

It seems like a long shot for Egypt to make a smooth transition to democracy, but thankfully, it seems that is what the majority truly wants. The hurdles it has are enormous.

And of course, the USA is a great democracy but we have tons of problems with electing quality leaders who actually work together to solve real problems. Sometimes it seems like our government barely works at all.

I have hopes that Egypt can become a testing ground for a new model of democracy that is better suited for the area. I believe that democracy is a universal common goal, but you can’t simply graft an American political system on a foreign country. There has been a lot written about what may constitute an Islamic democracy (and I’m not in a position to summarize) but the main point is that it is possible, but it probably won’t exactly meet our expectations.

Egypt will be lucky if they can stay out of the hands of fascists of any and all stripes. Getting ahead of ourselves on whose democracy is better than whose, I’d say.

You gotta better chance of getting struck by lightening at Times Square on New Years eve, then Egypt becoming anything of a “better” democracy. Osama Bin Laden has a good chance of becoming a new President, as does anyone else in Egypt.

You are misunderstanding the concept of democracy as being the same as its application.

Obviously, any popular revolt contains the possibility of a democratic government. Egypt has tried before: in 1879, in response to economic overextension by the ruling Khedive (nominally subordinate to the Ottoman Sultan) and consequent interference by Britain and France (and others), an increasingly rebellious coalition of military officers and fellahin began to push through reforms that might have led to a parliamentary republic – but the British, fearing that they’d lose their investments in the Suez Canal and other interests, suppressed the rebellion. They continued to meddle until the declaration of the current republic in 1953; despite the name, the parliament, and the elections, there hasn’t been any democracy there, either. The Egyptians have had a hard time achieving self-rule, and the strong leaders who led them there have exercised considerable power.

This time around, there won’t be a takeover, by Europeans, Americans or anyone else, and it might be that just a little tweaking can make the existing government truly democratic. On the other hand, There are plenty of candidates for “New Boss, same as the Old Boss,” , and plenty of potential for a general revolt that replaces the government with something entirely new, and I’m not betting on the restraint of whoever takes over. Has a strong supporter of democracy emerged from the ranks?

Within five seconds of putting foot down on Egyptian soil, I had already been taught the word bakshish (technically, it means “tip” but more realistically it means “bribe”.) I doubt that much has changed in that regard over the last decade, so no, a democracy will not last particularly long in Egypt except perhaps in name. The entire populace needs to learn a new philosophy of class, money, property, and personal worth before democracy will be particularly meaningful.

ready29003, I took the link out of your post. Let’s keep the SDMB discussion separate from the one on your forum.

I dunno. India manages to do it.

And it’s a constant struggle with many, many deep flaws including disgraceful sedition laws but if Egypt can emulate India’s system then I’d be delighted.

Yeah, it’s not easy and it comes at a price. But it’s possible. Democracy cannot just be a first-world luxury.

I haven’t been to India, so I can’t say. Certainly, I’d hope that you’re right. I wasn’t aware that corruption was a large part of Indian life. I’d always presumed that their success was due to the aftereffects of British control.

Well, the Egyptians will first have to jettison tribalism and religion-based laws so… probably not. Or at least not any time soon.

Well aren’t you guys depressing!

Allow me to rephrase the 2nd part of my question. Imagine the Egyptian Government asked you to consult with them as they drafted their constitution. (I believe this really happens when a new country is drafting a constitution- since I saw it once on the West Wing BTW). So Egypt calls you in and they start with a almost identical copy of the US constitution and ask: “In very general terms, are there any major items you would suggest we change?”

What would you say that might help avoid some of the US problems with deadlock and dufus issues?

You mean like Zimbabwe or Malaysia?

P.S: ready29003, I’m not certain countries that are drafting their constitution would go copy the US’s system. Case law systems are usually the last thing you’d want to import.

Honestly, I’d have to study up on Egypt for 3-6 months before even thinking to offer an opinion. And even then I’d still say that it comes down to finding someone to lead it all. The US Constitution succeeded because it took into account the issues of the US at that time and place. But it also succeeded because influential Americans were actively promoting it all around the country, and drove into the heads of the general public the issues that were at hand, and why this solved it for them. Then it also had George Washington at the top, who everyone trusted and whom, it ended up, was trustworthy enough to actually stand down at the end of his term. Getting a nicely written up set of goals is only 1/3rd of the battle. The last 1/3rd – finding an ultimate leader – is damned difficult, as the US’s history in finding someone to champion indicates. The second 1/3rd – getting a strong local following and rational, internal debate and support – is something that has to come from within.

Like Hong Kong and Gibraltar.

It’s a mixed bag, but the British Empire did alright by some of its colonies – something that can’t be said of any of the other nations in Europe.

Some former British colonies are doing very well. Others are a hot mess. I might agree that former British colonies are doing better on average than former French, Dutch, German, or Italian colonies, but I don’t think that former colonial status is a very good predictor of current stability.

Nevertheless, I agree that if Egypt could rise to the level of corruption, religious strife, and poverty that India currently enjoys, I’d count it a win. India’s not perfect, but the government is freer and more democratic than many.

Honk Kong and Gibraltar never were countries. And you want to compare that to India, which has by itself the pop of a continent?

Most of the former British colonies are in as bad a state as most former colonies, period. To think that India:
1)doesnt have major corruption problems
2)can only “fare well” because dem good old Brits showed them how to properly run a country is eye rolling material.

Where did I say that the British showed them how to do it? Hitler was a big force in the creation of the anti-war movement. Doesn’t mean he was Gandhi.