Living in a democracy means not always getting what you want

I oppose the military coup in Egypt, and here’s why: It doesn’t matter if Mohamed Morsi lied, it doesn’t matter if he did the opposite of what he promised to do, it doesn’t matter if he committed crimes, and it doesn’t matter how many voters wanted him gone.

None of that is a justification for the military overthrowing a democratically elected government. And this is a lesson that Americans really still haven’t learned — voters are ultimately responsible for everything that the President does. Electing a poor leader and then having to endure poor leadership for many years is the price that voters *should* have to pay for making poor choices.

If the military is willing to step in and save the day every time people are unhappy, they will never learn to take responsibility for their decisions in elections. Voters in Egypt no longer have any incentive to think long and hard about what led them to make the wrong choice last year, or what about their system of government needs to change to produce better candidates. The military has given voters a get-out-of-jail-free card, a do-over that they don’t deserve.

This is not an endorsement of Mohamed Morsi any more than it is implied acceptance of his policies. And any alleged crimes that he may have committed should be valid reasons for his *lawful* removal from office. Just not a military coup.

Now is the perfect time for Egyptians to learn this lesson, at the dawn of democracy for their society when it will last for a good long while. And the military needs to learn its place as a subservient arm to civilian leadership — even poor leadership — rather than some autonomous overseer with independent authority.

Without having to live with the consequences of poor choices in elections, voters will not learn to appreciate the true importance of the choices they need to make, and without a subservient military, Egypt will have a de facto dictatorship where the President is overthrown repeatedly until the military finds a puppet to do its bidding.

There’s so much more to standing on your own as a new democratic country than just having elections. Finding out that democratically elected leaders can actually be as bad, or worse, than dictators and then having to live with it for a while is a part of the game.

A sick game, mind you, but a game nonetheless.

Living in a democracy means not always getting what you want.

Paul Tenny

Paul Tenny

I'm not a journalist but I do it anyway. I cover elections and have interviewed television writers and producers.
Paul Tenny

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