Saturday, January 19, 2008

Kenya: Making America Look Lazy Since 1963

When did America get to be so lazy with its democracy?

I mean, regardless of the other types of lazy that we've been perpetuating for years now, I think that our democracy should be the one thing that we're at least a little bit zealous about. Is this not the thing that we're oh so proud of? Is this not thing that we gently slid into a very drunk and possibly heavily sedated middle eastern country in the back room of a kegger? (get it? I'm talking about forced sex.)

Since we are self-proclaimed bastions of sexy, sexy democracy, explain to me why, then, the Kenyans are whooping our collective asses at it?

If you're unaware of the situation in Kenya as-is, (And how could you? It's bigger news in America if John Edwards gets a haircut than people fighting a war) let me do my best to simultaneously crack insensitive jokes and summarize for you. See, in Kenya, they recently had a presidential election. Right afterwards, the media was reporting that the opposition, Odinga, was beating the incumbent, Kibaki, by like, a lot. But the official count was...absent. "How many votes are there?" the Kenyan government was saying, "We have no idea. We didn't even realize that there was an election going on. What's the score?"

Then, suddenly, and I do mean suddenly, the government steps in and pulls a Calvinball. "New rule!" they declare, "the name of the game is now "We Win" and guess what? We win! Man, we are awesome." According my good friends at the British something something, the win was determined by about 230,000 votes. Woo. Boy. That sure is a lot of votes.

For comparison sake, in the 2000 election, in Florida, the official count resulted in Bush winning by 537 votes. (I used Wiki for this information, which isn't the most reliable of sources, but regardless of how you feel the votes landed, I think we can all agree that the vote was close, which is the point that I'm trying to illustrate.) Now, afterwards, some of us were upset, and some of us complained. In fact, some of us complained an awful lot. Now, at this point, there are two groups that I'm concerned with, the first are the people that were outraged at this result, the people that went to Bush's inaugeration to boo, the people that threatened to emmigrate, but ultimately, did not. The second group is the people that didn't care, the people that either did not vote or were not particularly concerned with the outcome. Keep these two groups in mind.

Now, back to Kenya. If you went ahead and clicked the BBC link above, you already know how the election story ends. People rioted, and they rioted hardcore. In fact, they partied so hardy, about 600 of them didn't make it home. These are 600 people that felt that the difference between one ruler and the next is a difference worth fighting and dying for, 600 people that decided that their democracy was a scared thing that should not be tampered with, regardless of what the government told them was the truth.

Am I implying that the government lied to us after the 2000 election? Well, I guess it sounds like it, but I don't think that's what happened. What I'm really concerned with is what we did, as a nation, afterwards, for there was much bitching and even more moaning (hee hee hee). The Supreme Court declares that Bush is the winner; some people think this is fair and just, some are outraged, some don't care. The bottom line is, nobody does anything. Those that wanted their version of justice (whether right or wrong) did nothing to fight for it and after a brief stint of complaining, the status quo returns to normal. In Kenya, those that felt they had been wronged by the government took to the streets, armed with machetes and arrows. Machetes and arrows, people. And they did so under even more innocuous circumstances than the 2000 American election.

As time goes on in America, people begin feeling less and less pleased with Bush, but doing less and less about it. And no, I'm sorry, your witty bumper sticker is not "sticking it to the man". In the past, citizens have taken to arms when they felt wrong, and at least in recent history, have boycotted, protested despite danger to their lives, and even captured a US monument to get their voices heard. What do we do now? We write a lengthy post on a message board and call ourselves patriots. Pathetic.

Even now, the Kenyans have begun to organize a boycott of products and services stemming from the allies of President Kibaki, who, might I add, is not engaging his country in something has heinous as an unnecessary war. Somewhere in America, someone is saying, "No Blood For Oil" while driving an SUV. No blood for oil? How about no money for oil? You're saying you believe in your cause just enough to buy a bumper sticker, but not a bike?

I'm a firm believer in the Second Amendment, but the difference between me and the NRA is what we believe the intent of that amendment is. I don't think it was designed to protect our right to hunt with AKs, or to kill teenagers who are stealing our hubcaps (I did not think of that example off the top of my head. That really did happen, and if anyone has a news link to it, I would appreciate it.) No, I believe that amendment was designed to protect us from the government itself, so that if the time ever came that we would have to overthrow our rulers, we would have the means necessary to do so. And yet, here we are, Second Amendment fully intact and well-preserved, dissatisfied with our government, typing furiously to make a difference.

I suppose I can't point fingers, since I've never started a rebellion in my lifetime. However, I would like to state that I'm not so much dissatisfied with the government as I am dissatisfied with the state of this country's citizens. If I walked outside right now, gun in hand, ready to overthrow the government, would you fight with me? Or would you go back inside and complain about the Bush administration to your liberal friends?

In November, many of us will be called to the voting booths, a good number of us won't even bother. We're like that proverbial beaten wife, that keeps returning to the abusive husband, unable to see that we deserve better and unwilling to work for it. Some people will get angry and do nothing about it, and some people already know that there's no point in getting angry, because nobody's going to bother to change anything. And in the end, Kenya makes our democracy look like a lazy amateur.
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