Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Taking Job Applications for Arab Spring's Framers

James Madison's General Remarks on the Convention
The vacuum of leadership in Egypt may stall the full fruition of the 25 January revolution.  Protestors took to the streets again last Friday in Cairo and Alexandria to demand several things, including that a constitution be written first, before parliamentary elections, and higher wages.  Many are still there, and reports of conditions are grave.

To the people, those in power seem little different to those who participated in Mubarak's regime, and questions arise as to who is left with enough experience to lead change.

Super-constitutional principles drafted with input from leaders in 11 parties are being issued soon, but will the people and those who lead them in the 25 January uprising accept these principles and those who drafted them as legitimate and consistent with the spirit of 25 January?

Who will be accepted as legitimate framers of Egypt's new constitution?

If the Arab world can learn from history, perhaps they will countenance learning about why the American Framers were--and still are--accepted as legitimate by the American people.  Why were these individuals so successful?

In my research this morning, I came across the above document written by James Madison near the end of his life, circa 1830-6.  In it, he discusses a few characteristics of those who participated in the American constitutional convention in 1787.

Here is most of what he says about his fellow framing brethren in "Gen[era]l remarks on the Convention" (available digitally at CCCXLIII):
  1. [they were] members of the most select kind & possessing particularly the confidence of the Constituents
  2. also generally of mature age & much political experience
  3. Disinterested men & candor demonstrated by mutual concessions & frequent changes of opinion
  4. Few who did not change in the progress of discussions the opinions on important points which they carried into the Convention
  5. Few who at the close of the Convention, were not ready to admit this change as the enlightening effect of the discussions
  6. And how few, whose opinions at the close of the Convention, have not undergone changes on some points, under the more enlightening influence of experience
Sounds like a job posting for new regime leadership in Arab countries, no?  Wanted: leaders trusted by the people with 10+ years of political experience, ability to admit mistakes and learn from others, and agility in debate and compromise.  


Who fits this description in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Bahrain?  I can think of a few.

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