Friday, January 29, 2010

Boycott as a Tool of Democracy

Maimire Mennasemay wrote an article recently titled "Retooling the 2010 Election as a Weapon of Democracy" in which he suggested that the upcoming Ethiopian elections in May could be used as a means to advance the cause of democracy if handled right. Here is the crux of his argument:
...Elections are political tools, and like any tool, every election could become a tool for democracy if we “hold it right”, which means that if we hold the 2010 election right, it could become a powerful weapon for effectively de-legitimating the TPLF/EPDRF regime....

...Using the COC [Code of Conduct] as a political boomerang that comes back to its originating context and knocks it open to expose what it tries to hide—the anti-democratic and exploitative nature of the TPLF/EPDRF regime—is an action that those who signed and did not sign the COC, and those who participate and do not participate in the election, could take....

...But this is possible only if the members of the Ethiopian democratic family abide by a democratic code of conduct, implicit or explicit, based on mutual respect and tolerance.
Oh, how I wish this could be the case! Unfortunately and sadly, the Woyane regime has been preparing diligently for the last five years to make sure that there is very little chance of this scenario unfolding during the upcoming election. Besides, opposition groups of all hues had participated in elections in 1992, 1995, 2000 and 2005, and all of them have already proven that the ruling regime is not interested in being a partner for building a democracy in Ethiopia. Been there, done that. This is not to suggest that the weaknesses among the opposition has not contributed to democracy not taking root in Ethiopia under Woyane rule, but the blame rests squarely on Woyane's shoulders, no question.

So, what is the point of participating in another election, especially one that is highly scripted, which will not provide Ethiopians with any hope for representative government they desire and deserve? It is pointless.

It is not that I disagree with the notion that "every election could become a tool for democracy if we 'hold it right'”; it's just that I think Ethiopia, 18 years into Woyane rule, has reached the point where participation in yet another sham election will cause an irreparable harm to the larger task of laying the foundations for a democratic order in Ethiopia. Therefore, in my humble opinion, the best tool to use to advance the cause of democracy in Ethiopia at this point in time is through BOYCOTT, not participation in yet another sham elections.

I do not reach this conclusion lightly. As any long time reader of this blog can easily surmise, I have a lot of respect to those politicians who take tremendous risks to their own safety to fight the Woyane dictatorship on the ground in Ethiopia by using all peaceful means at their disposal. The supply of such politicians is limited and I see no need to waste precious resources and energy in the upcoming election. What is the logic behind sacrificing these kinds of politicians for a meaningless objective? I can't justify.

Isn't the sacrifice of Birtukan Mideksa and the thousands of others who are currently and have previously been incarcerated and the hundreds who have already given their precious lives for the cause of democracy not sufficient enough to prove the Woyane regime is an illegitimate one? I think it is! I would rather see the Mideksa type of Ethiopian politicians wise up and live to fight another day.

My view is that even if the parties that are currently registered to run in the elections, especially those with the Medrek coalition, end up taking part in the election, the political forces that are left out of the process are way too significant to consider the election a useful tool for democracy. I say: Why not boycott the 2010 election and let the chips fall where they may?

Friday, January 22, 2010

How to Fix American Health Care

A little more than half of the visitors of this blog are from the US. This post is for their benefit.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

"A crisis is a terrible thing to exploit"

This was the subtitle for today's Wall Street Journal editorial on the Massachusetts Senate special election. While the phrase is an accurate description of President Obama's first year in office, the WSJ was also taking a shot at the now infamous "You never let a serious crisis go to waste" quote of Rahm Emanuel, the White House Chief of Staff, regarding the financial meltdown of 2008. The Journal editorial goes on to say that:
Whether or not Republican Scott Brown wins today in Massachusetts, the special Senate election has already shaken up American politics. The close race to replace Ted Kennedy, liberalism's patron saint, shows that voters are rebelling even in the bluest of states against the last year's unbridled pursuit of partisan liberal governance.... The lesson of Mr. Obama's lost first year is that an economic crisis is a terrible thing to exploit.
Obama and the Democrats have overreached. They knew all along that the result of the 2008 elections was not a mandate to expand entitlements and increase the size and scope of government, but they went ahead with it anyhow.

Now that voters from New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts, states which Obama easily carried in 2008, have clearly rejected the expansion of government, Obama and the Democrats should stop pursuing their highly divisive domestic agenda. Instead, they should put their efforts into issues that have the support of most Americans, issues like: job creation, energy independence and incremental health care reform because the very essence of America is what is at stake. (See Not a Transformational Figure.)

Thank you voters of Massachusetts for putting the brakes on the march towards a nanny state!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

PBS Series: This Emotional Life

If you have six hours to spare, the three-part PBS TV series which premiered last week titled "This Emotional Life" is well worth your time. The series "explores improving our social relationships, learning to cope with depression and anxiety, and becoming more positive, resilient individuals." The host is Harvard professor Daniel Gilbert and you can watch the whole thing online.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Mideksa: Not Forgotten

The Guardian's East Africa correspondent, Xan Rice, wrote a touching piece today on Birtukan Mideksa, perhaps Ethiopia's best hope to break out of its violent cycle, and the toll her incarceration has taken on her elderly mother and only child. There are many lines worthy of quoting in the article, but here is the one that stands out for me:
"The government says the more we make noise the more difficult it will be to get her [Mideksa] out," said one western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. "Are we going to risk our entire aid budget for one person? No."
Does any one get what this anonymous western diplomat is saying? Is he/she saying that the reason they do not make noise is because they (the donors) can't afford to offend the aid recipient? What kind of twisted logic is that? What a heartless diplomat!

It is in moments like these that I feel Ethiopia would be better off without Western aid. But that would be heartless, wouldn't it?