It Is Good To Be An American

We need to stand tall and thank our lucky stars that we live in the United States of America.

Watching events unfold in Egypt, I have reached the conclusion that the crux of the matter is not so much who the leader is but the lack of any constitutional process to assure not only an orderly succession, but also a reasonable chance for a new, democratic leader, one who reflects the will of the people, to step in.  That is the real villainy driving Egypt’s revolution.  For 30 years, Hosni Mubarak refused to designate a vice president; the only remedy to succession was naming his son Gamal as his successor.  One dictator begets another.

Whether or not the Egyptian government is using this void of constitutional law as an excuse for a transitional, or even a replacement, government not to assume power, remains to be seen.  Personal leadership is important but not as basic as the laws that guarantee an orderly, fair and free change of rule.

The Egyptian people remain unsatisfied with the proposals for an interim government, and they are deservedly unhappy.  There is no grand plan for a freely chosen successor.  The Vice President, Omar Suleiman, was just appointed by Mubarak a week ago.  The key word here, is “appointed”, not elected.  With no legal process on the books, this assignment is just as insulting as having a ruler who is a dictator for life.  To make matters worse, Egypt has no constitutional framework to rid itself of such a malevolent leader nor to elect and install a new head of state.  No wonder the people are so enraged with the supposed concessions offered by the current regime.  It is just more of the same.

This refusal to build an Egyptian constitution over the years has been Mubarak’s greatest sin.  Can you imagine where and what our country would be today if we did not have our constitution to refer to in times of upheaval?  After Abraham Lincoln was shot in 1865, following the bloodiest war this nation ever fought, our country was hardly at the peak of its strength.  The Civil War nearly cut our country in two, physically and ideologically.  Furthermore, the process of  “putting it back together again” was no easy feat.  It was exactly at that moment in history that our President was murdered.  His successor, Andrew Johnson, was not a great replacement.  In fact, up until the Bill Clinton impeachment hearing, Andrew Johnson was the only American President to be impeached.  Nevertheless, order was maintained.  Yes, we lost our great leader and defender of the Union, Mr. Lincoln, but we did obey the laws in place to ensure the continuation of our nation.

Likewise when President Kennedy was shot in 1963.  We were at the height of the Cold War and tensions were running high.  Also, Kennedy was a popular President, reminding us about our greatness and our potential.  After Lee Harvey Oswald killed Kennedy in Dallas, I had visions that the Russians were on their way over to bomb us into oblivion.  My mother took me aside and calmed me, telling me that our Constitution provides for the succession of leadership.  She told me that our laws were greater than our politicians.  I will never forget that photo of Lyndon Johnson, standing next to a bloodied Mrs. Kennedy on the plane back to Washington, taking the oath of office.  As brutal as events were on that day, we had our Constitution to ensure that the United States would prevail.

Don’t get me wrong: I would much prefer to have an honest, smart leader in office than a weak, self-absorbed one.  However, without the laws in place to guarantee succession, any kind of leader would be moot.  This is the underlying legal process that is missing from Egypt and it is very troubling.  Egypt’s lack of the most basic building block for a democratic government, a constitutional foundation, is the real problem.  Even if Mubarak leaves office, without amending their laws, without defining the process of government, without establishing regular free and open elections, Egypt will not survive as a democracy.  There can be no fair and just government if there are no laws to define that government and its processes.

So you bet.  We Americans need to get down on our knees and kiss the precious American ground on which we walk —- freedoms, problems ,  imperfect government and plenty of room for improvement all aside —- and thank our founding fathers for their innovation and foresight.  Show gratitude.

POSTSCRIPT:

David Letterman had this to say:

“The good news is Hosni Mubarak may step down.  The bad news is he’s going to be replaced by his idiot son, Hosni W. Mubarak.

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4 Responses to “It Is Good To Be An American”

  1. NatalieR Says:

    Hosni W. Mubarak…I LOVE that!!!! very cute.

  2. EGR Says:

    My dad, Mr. G, traveled all over the world for work, and always said that there was no place better than the good ol’ U S of A. I agree with him (and you, Mama) whole-heartedly.

  3. NatalieR Says:

    Just read the entire post and I say Amen!

  4. NatalieR Says:

    The genius of our Founders cannot be overstated. The documents emanating from that Revolutionary period are gorgeous for their simplicity and astoundingly simple for their complexity.

    It did not, of course, happen overnight. Slightly less than 250 years old we still verbally fight our seemingly eternal arguments. At least, so far, satisfying our disagreements has stopped short, at least in modernity, of emanating from the barrel of a gun and the appearance of chaos and anarchy in the streets.

    When we study our conflicts in high school texts somehow, I think, it fails to convey how ugly, destructive, and threatening real anarchy truly is. The blood of tyrants should never mingle with the blood of patriots unless and until there is absolutely no other way out and, perhaps, as convulsive as contemporary civil war would be, not even then.

    I hope our transitions of power and our internal peace and stability will always be eternally so.

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