Thursday, February 03, 2011

Exception to the Rule

Revolutions have a nasty habit of throwing and trampling the first rational riders who leap upon their backs and seize the reins of change. More often than not, the outcomes of popular, "democratic" uprisings take trajectories bent to nefarious actors' whose thirst for power subverts the popular will. Here in these re-United States, our pampered population is blissfully unaware, or uncaring, that our own revolution, and it's eventual constitutional conclusion, was the great exception to this rule.

Part of the reason for this, the Colonel believes, is that our late 18th Century separation from Great Britain was less revolution and more civil war. A sampling of public opinion at any point between 1770 and 1780 would have revealed an American population deeply divided on the question of separation from Britain. Indeed, given the fact that most Americans, particularly those south of Boston, were, at best, ambivalent on the question, those in favor of independence were in the minority. At any one time during the conflict, Loyalist American colonists serving in British-raised militia and line units, or even in the British Army and Navy itself, nearly equalled the number of those serving in rebel militia or in the Continental Army and Navy.

Frankly, we have Great Britain to thank for the fact that our nascent nation was as ready as it was for self-governance. The Colonies had been mostly governing themselves more-or-less "democratically" for decades prior to their declaration of independence from the British Crown. And, we have a war, centuries-on at that point, between Britain and France to thank for the paucity of forces and poor Army leaders the Crown dedicated to putting down the rebels in America.

Still, the American "experiment" in democratic republicanism was a much nearer disaster in its infancy than most modern Americans know. There were ample bad actors around at the time who wished to hijack the American revolution. Were it not for the principled idealism of the majority of the first generation of our leaders, and the fact the the material lives of the vast majority of American colonists changed little in the initial transition from crown colony to independent nation, the outcome could have been far different.

So, what to think of the popular uprisings simmering across the Middle East?

The Colonel is not optimistic about the chances of Jeffersonian, Jacksonian, or any other kind of secular democracy taking hold. He sees no George Washington, nor Simon Bolivar for that matter, in the lead.

The Colonel believes that best these re-United States, and Israel, can hope for is that Mubarak in Egypt and Abdullah in Jordan can keep from becoming unhorsed before other rational riders are ready to grasp the reins and gentle the steed.

The Colonel knows, however, that hope is not a strategy. This will not end well. There will be no exception to the rule in Egypt.
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