Thursday, July 9, 2009 - The Dumbing Down of Democracy - Opinion: The Dumbing Down of Democracy


With a calm and confident smile, Mr. Peskov replied: "Ours is a different system of democracy." That was it. He stopped talking but kept smiling. The message sank in.


Dmitry Peskov was defining democracy in a way that could hardly be more different than the system of political pluralism developed over the past 300 years in the West. He couldn't have been clearer: We are changing the rules. Get over it.


Where is it written that American-style democracy will last forever, much less spread to new nations? If the members of the U.N. General Assembly could choose between the democracy of the U.S., Britain and France or that of Russia, Venezuela and Bolivia, likely it would be the latter. Genuine democracy is hard work. Why should the likes of Pakistan, Iraq, Turkey, Taiwan or Brazil endure that stress if Potemkin Village democracy is acceptable?


What Putin, Khamenei, Chávez, Morales and Mubarak want is fait-accompli legitimacy. When resistance to their dumbed-down democracy stops, they'll have it. China's Orwellian filtering software is a nice metaphor for what's at stake. Vocal criticism, even as eloquent as Mr. Obama's in Moscow this week or in Cairo, is not resistance. Real resistance requires acts of political push-back that all the world's people can see and recognize.



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