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Democracy in Jordan?


[1/13/2013 12:00:00 AM]

By Abdulillah

We are about to embark here shortly on an experiment in Jordan. This experiment is said by many commentators and government officials to be the way of the future for Jordan. Specifically; I am referring to the election that we are will soon undertake in Jordan. The purpose of this undertaking is said would lead us to a more participatory form of government in the near future; something more akin to a constitutional democracy.

Now before we all jump up to express our positions on this election process, those that are running, and the reasons widely written and pontificated about by many commentators, officials and others, I wanted only to go over some observations that I found both perplexing about all of this. I will understand if you find this commentary cynical or to some even worse than that; un-civic, but it is neither. It is only a form of my intellectual expression and observations towards such a movement in our country.

Now before we embark on this journey I would like to go over what I understand to be the form of democracy that we are aspiring for in Jordan. I have interpreted this to generally mean mostly a liberal democracy in a form of a parliamentary government, something akin to say what the UK has today. That is to say a form of a representative democracy where government is delegated by elected representatives of the people, and is subject to their review and ouster.

Now many philosophers and thinkers have debated democratic rule and its merits over the ages. For instance, democratic rule actually implies rule of the majority, which in turn could mean subjection of the minority, where the policy with the most votes gets implemented. Or those democracies without some form of checks and balances on power can be just as oppressive as other abhorrent political systems (see Israel today how it treats its minority Arab and Sephardic Jewish citizens. Or the past apartheid South Africa). Also the irrationality of the voter comes into play, where many voters are highly uninformed about issues relating to economics and have other strong biases and opinions towards one party over the other, such as in tribal issues, or other issues of which they have little or no knowledge. We have read and heard of some of the same in our own country, where some individuals when asked who they were going to vote for, have stated my tribe, or the one who is going to bring the most money and prestige to my area.

Worse than that, in the case of one young woman who stated she was going to vote for the best looking male, because she had no clue what they stood for but they looked good. Probably not knowing that many of the placards she saw were old pictures of the individual, or ones that were photo-shopped to make him look younger or better.

Many other philosophers, argued against democracy rule completely saying it was illusionary, where the shift of power will be from subjection to manipulation. That it eventually would lead to the wealthy and the elite running the country. If you do not believe this is happening see the USA today, many or the members of Congress are millionaires, or the elites of society and they have been manipulating the people and government polices to aggrandize themselves for a long time now, that little or nothing gets done to better the country.

The philosopher Socrates in the Republic argued that the best form of government was not democracy but that lead by reluctant “Philosopher Kings”, (i.e. the wisest of men in the State). Now reluctance I like to believe here means not abandonment of the idea of serving the people, but “fear” of something much higher than himself, and his knowledge that he is not infallible. Now, you can agree with this concept or not, but I can tell you I have rarely seen a “reluctant” or the wisest of men running for political office in any present day democracy. In fact I have seen the opposite, or worse, the rich and elite or the greedy, corrupt and manipulative people running for office.

However cynical the above may appear to readers, it is only meant to educate and not force ideas in your head. It is meant to allow you to reason the best for our nation. We do not need others to tell us what to do or how to act. We really should know the best for ourselves and look for the wisest and the most reluctant of men, who askew the position for fear that they are not infallible, but want the best for our nation and get them to serve.

My brothers and sisters why is it that we have heard very little in a form of debates or otherwise from those that are running about what they envision for our country and how they see us getting there? Also, do we really need observers from foreign lands monitoring our voting for irregularities because we cannot trust ourselves to actually hold a fair vote? Do you think that countries of the west would actually even consider outsiders of their nations to monitor their vote? What a shame on us if this is the case. We are better than this!! God Bless Jordan and its People.







* Caricature Credit: Emad Hajjaj

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