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Rantings of a Sandmonkey

Be forewarned: The writer of this blog is an extremely cynical, snarky, pro-US, secular, libertarian, disgruntled sandmonkey. If this is your cup of tea, please enjoy your stay here. If not, please sod off

Thursday, July 14, 2005

To be or not to be..NDP

A couple of days ago I said I was taking some time off to think about a serious decision that I am forced to make ( and no, it’s not a sex change operation, thank you very much Jeff you wanker). Since I still can’t make up my mind on it and I am still torn between what I want to do and what I am told I should do, I am just gonna lay it all on you guys and hope you could convince me of choosing one way over the other. Ok? Ok.. Here is the deal: My family wants me to run in the next municipal elections as part of the NDP list. It wouldn’t really be running, and I won’t even have to do anything, because those elections aren’t really elections because they get boycotted by the opposition. So basically whoever is on the list gets elected. Simple as that. I would become a member of the city council with no campaigning necessary. They have enough clout to place me on the list with my cousin and come November I am an elected official. The reason why they want me to do that is simple: the old guard’s time is nearly up. For better or worse, Egypt is going to go through a transition with Mubarak Sr.’s era ending and his son’s beginning and this will include their men. Now is the time to jump on the Jimmy wagon, and only a few seniors are allowed. New blood is needed to ensure that our family stays connected, because in Egypt if you are not connected you are screwed, and therefore the best time to start acting is now. Me and my cousin fit perfectly the new mold of the future NDP men : Upper-middle class upbringing, politically astute, multilingual, US educated, etc… You know, good faces to represent Egypt and the new regime. It’s also worth mentioning that the municipal elections have now new-founded importance and power : According to the new election law, if you want to run for President, you need to get approval signatures of municipal council members, alongside those of parliamentarians. They will get to have a big say on who runs and who doesn’t, and this is particularly important to the regime that the councils to be filled with regime loyalists or in my case, the sons of regime loyalists, to ensure that no real competition gets to run. After a round or two of serving there, and proving your loyalty, you get to run for parliament with the full party support and you may even join a cabinet. It’s all very straightforward and simple really. A “No-brainer” as my cousin put it. And it is. For most Egyptians, such an opportunity is a no-brainer. Well, except for this particular Egyptian. It’s not a no-brainer. Not one by a long-shot. I am naturally opposed to the whole thing, and actually quite disgusted by it. This is against everything that I personally believe in. Against every principle that I have, stupid as they may be. There is no way I would accept this I said to them. No freakin way! (But…) They tell me that I need to not just think for myself and start thinking about what’s good for the family. The Family that took care of me, paid for my education in the US, got me the job I have now. The family that has given me so much already without asking for anything in return until now. They tell me that I need to stop being such a selfish ungrateful bastard and start giving back. That the Family needs this of me and that I am the only one who can really pull it off, because my cousin isn’t half as smart as me. They inform me that it is my responsibility: I have to take on that responsibility now, because there is no one else to do it. They remind me that I owe them, and that now is the time to pay. (I knew this day would come) I tell them that the price is too much to pay. It’s too much of a responsibility and that I can’t take it. I can’t be that person. (You are just being selfish. Think of all that we have given you.) I tell them that If I had known that that would be the price I would’ve have never agreed to travel in the first place. I told them that I have never wanted their money. I remind them that the majority of my college education I had scholarships and that I got my Masters degree through a scholarship just so I wouldn’t take their money. That I paid for my trip and all of my expenses when I went and visited my Mother during her operation and I still pay off that debt till this day. That the reason why I still do not have a car is because I refuse to take a single penny from their unclean money ;Money that I haven’t earned and that I know comes from shady dealings. This is also the real reason why I put up that donation button: I hoped in my delusions of grandeur to collect enough money so that when the shit hits the fan I would never need their money or help. I tell them that I don’t want any of it. Not anymore. I have shown you guys that. They then tell me: Then if you don’t for us, do it for the country. You know that this country needs people like you. You know that amongst the new guard and the NDP that there are many good people that actually work to advance and reform and improve this country. That it’s not all as bad as you believe. Those people are the reason why this country still floats and hasn’t completely turned to shit yet. They keep the ship going for all of us. Aren’t you the one that always bitches about wanting to change things, to improve things in this country that you claim to so dearly love. Well, here is your chance bucko. It’s time to put up or shut up.You know that you can’t beat them, so you might as well join them, and attempt to do some good. And this stops me and makes me reconsider. (It’s not always so black and white after all, huh?) Look, I have no delusions about what it is to join the NDP and get elected in the municipal elections. Being an elected member of the city council is freshman year in the NDP corruption college. It’s corruption 101 and the only way to pass is to cheat. That I would have to play along to some degree, give a blind eye or maybe even partake a little bit in the “action” so that the people there wouldn’t feel threatened by me. There is only honor amongst thieves as long as they steal together, otherwise all gloves are off. I would have to play Ball enough times for them to let me be and that would make me the same as the corrupt hypocrites that I so heartedly despise. But… (Here comes the rationalization) But I am also a pragmatist. I know that the measure of power only belongs in the hands of those willing to yield it and use it, and I am willing. I know that things won’t change on their own, and that someone needs to initiate it and ensure it is done right for things to improve around here. I would ally myself with the devil if it means that this country gets better. I honestly would. And they are right that this is my chance to do so, to try to and do the things that I believe need to get done. That this is my one and only chance to do some good, to make a difference, to change things from inside the belly of the beast. (However) Being inside the Beast’s Belly means that you’ve already been eaten. If I participate in this, there is a fairly good chance that it would change me instead of me changing it. I am well aware of that. Doing what needs to be done would require one hell of a stomach and a ton of effort to make just a tiny bit of difference, and I am not sure I am the guy for the job. I am not sure I am strong enough. Not to mention, I am no hero. I am not willing to martyr myself or compromise my integrity for the sake of a “greater good” that may never be realized. I am not that man. Sigh.. This is why I never wanted to come back to this country. It’s like watching a trainwreck waiting to happen that involves a train carrying all of your loved ones running 200 miles per hour and you can’t help it or stop it. And then they tell you that you can save your loved ones on the expense of forsaking all the other lives on that train. I don’t want to make the choice; nor do I want to watch the train crash. Call me a selfish coward all you want, but I just didn’t want to be around to witness it at all, let alone even get asked to make that insane choice. I wanted to stay out of it all! Just run away and hide somewhere else that is not here.

Mom : Leave, leave, leave. Everyone is leaving this country! If all the good people leave it, who will fix it? Me: So you admit that your people broke it?
But it doesn’t matter. I am here now and I can’t escape. If I ever want to get back to the states it would take a lot of money that I don’t have and they will stand in the way every way they could. I am stuck here, for better or worse, and I am forced to make that decision whether I like it or not. Every person that I know tells me not to be stupid, to accept the position, to do what’s best for your interests and everything else be damned, especially my stupid principles and morals. That that’s the smart thing to do. But…I just can’t! Help?


At 7/14/2005 03:40:00 AM, Blogger gatorbait said...

How long do you have to make the decision? This will help determine a few things.

At 7/14/2005 03:55:00 AM, Blogger The Sandmonkey said...

I have been stalling for a month now. I have to make the choice by next week.

At 7/14/2005 04:49:00 AM, Anonymous ip the shaolin janitor. said...

Here is the rule of thumb when you are against the wall and the knife is at your throat.

You will never ever be truly happy nor accomplish any more than 25% of your capabilities will allow you if you are not doing what you love.

By your family asking to take such an action they are putting their family at risk and your own future generation also and that is because if you fail you will fail more than just you. Think of your own children just for starters and second think of the damage you may do to those in your country who will suffer under your decisions made in struggles.

Always remember that knowledge is nothing without wisdom and understanding.

You can do much more for your nation with an powerfull education ambition and passion in what you love to do as a professional and patriot.

Heros are awarded and remembered for their courage and sacrifice but legends are remembered for their deeds, intellect, ways of life and for who they were deep within.

Kinds regards,

The Shaolin Janitor.

At 7/14/2005 05:04:00 AM, Anonymous Anat from Israel said...

Run, Sandmonkey, run.

If I understand you correctly, there is no other way to influence what you hold dear.

Trust to your integrity, and every weekend re-read your above post to remind yourself of your true aims.

But be prepared for setbacks as well as successes. It sure will not be easy.

At 7/14/2005 05:29:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

don't do it. as you said, if you're in the belly, you've already been eaten.

At 7/14/2005 05:41:00 AM, Blogger Egyptian Person said...

"You are fulfilling your destiny, Anakin. Become my apprentice. Learn to use the dark side of the Force"
- Darth Sidious

At 7/14/2005 05:49:00 AM, Anonymous Izzy said...

Don't you people get that he can't run? Read the thing again. It's not that simple.

S., you know what I think. I told you before to just do it. It doesn't matter what those people say. You are the only one who has to deal with this. Khlaeek zaky. Join them.

Ya Egyptian Person enta, eih el bedan dah. Dark Force eih we beta3 eih? Ekbaroh ba2a!

At 7/14/2005 05:57:00 AM, Anonymous Karim Elsahy said...

Let me ask you… have you ever met Gamal?

I would be very surprised if you haven’t and that’s what baffles me. He’s a great guy that could easily be very, very good for our country. Pro-private, empowering the youth, charismatic, a more economic role, more interior than exterior.

Only problem, of course, is that he’s Mubaraks son with all the attached stigmas. Otherwise he would probably win in a real election. Otherwise I would certainly vote for him.

It would be interesting to see someone with your views in a governmental position in Egypt. I certainly wouldn’t vote for you. No offence but I read your very first post in which you proclaim being pro Israel but “not the biggest fans of Palestinians.” That doesn’t go over well with me but then again as you said; it doesn’t matter. Law mitzabat, mitzabat. It would be interesting though.

I’m not much help I see. Ok try this. Run, get elected, and resign the next day out of protest. I’ve always wanted to resign out of protest; it’s so cool when they do that.

At 7/14/2005 06:00:00 AM, Anonymous SAM2 said...

u got me thinking of running...this is probably the last and final chance for Egypt. If Jimmy and his clan continue dancing to the same tune of the current regime at least u'll be in a better position to leave the country because living there will not be possible anyways..(remember how Nassser made it difficult for ppl to travel w/o the required connections) Good Luck and have you tried este7'ara? or was that what u were doin in Sinai...

At 7/14/2005 06:20:00 AM, Blogger Egyptian Person said...

(I just had to put that quote up there because your post reminded me of those words).

But as you said, you have your beliefs and principles which you hold in high regard.
But really, remember that if you decide to do it, the NDP will not join you. You will join the NDP.
You will not advance in the ranks of the NDP unless you learn their ways and apply them as long as you represent the NDP. You will see things and do things that may change your view of yourself and make it hard for you, if not impossible, to live by your beliefs and principles.

Are you willing to become the very thing you swore to destroy, and for the rest of your life?
(Even if you are willing it won't be easy, but if your answer is yes, then go for it).

At 7/14/2005 06:23:00 AM, Blogger Egyptian Person said...


ماتخليك هادي كدة... تعالى اشربلك كاسين... خليك إيزي يا إيزي

At 7/14/2005 06:30:00 AM, Anonymous Me,Myself and I said...

Ya nehar isweed...this is my knee jerk reaction without even reading your post yet....i want to get back to it but am currently drowned with work.

At 7/14/2005 06:35:00 AM, Blogger The Sandmonkey said...

Izzy: I am glad you've finally visited me , but don't insult my readers or their comments. etlam yallah!

Sam: If you can run then you should run, altough i don;t think it will ever get as bad as it was the days of Nasser. And now,I wasn't doing an este'7arah in sinai, I was spending quality time on the beach with 3 hot girls and a friend of mine. Granted, not the greatest atmosphere for intorspection, but it did distract me from the problem for a while anyway, and i kind of needed the break.

Now, leaving the best for last: Kimo.

To answer your question, yes, i have met gamal. And no, i didn;t walk away with the same impression that you did: I didn;t find him charismatic, nor did i find him exceptionally bright. You say that he would be very good for our country? Based on what standards? The ones we saw before him? You know that that's not a fair comparison.

I never thought of you as a Gammal cheerleader, but you wouldn;t be the first I've met (Izzy thinks the same). But please, answer the following questions for me and then if your answers convince me then i will join the Gammal cheerleader squad and even shake my ass for him. ok?

Ok, you said : "Only problem, of course, is that he’s Mubaraks son with all the attached stigmas. Otherwise he would probably win in a real election. Otherwise I would certainly vote for him."

That's the only problem he has? The bad stigma? And he would otherwise win elections? really? Ok ya kimo, can you please inform me based on what qualifications? What's his experience? What qualifies him for this post? That he is the secretary of lagnet el siasat? Well, how did he get that job? Did her run for it? Was he a member of the party all of his life? Has he written books? Been active in the community? Did he run for any election?

Nope. The only reason why he is in that position is because he is the president's son. So much for that "stigma" working against him.

Look man, I understand why you guys support him, because there is no one else. But do u ever wonder why there is no one else? Because they made sure no one else is visible or has half of chance of even challenging him. He is always in the papers, always being touted as super important, talking about the future and reform. Reform from what exactly? the NDP was always in power. If they want to reform they can just bstop acting like douchebags and do it from the inside and then we can talk about reforming the country from the mess they made.

You know, i wouldn;t mind him running, but let him run based on his own achievments and merits, and let others run against him in a real election, and let's see if he is really the super savior baby genius you guys make him to be. And let me assure you from now, he isn't. If he was faced with the top people this country has to offer, he would lose hands down. The best person to run this country? Please.

And if it's becauise he is pro business and inner reform and running things right, well, if that's all that it takes then i have a couple of names that I would rather vote for because they would beat him hands down in that category: How about Naguib Saweris? If its a no cause he is christian then how about Ahmed el Zayat? They are both brilliant businessmen who can argue for the same shit he argues, but are a lot smarter and have achieved what they achieved on their own. Why don't you support them for president instead? They would get my vote like that.

But u know that that doesn't matter, because besides being Mubarak's son, hhe gets all the priviliages mubarak has and more. He is metzabat. That's why he would win, cause they would make him win and would assure no one that could win against him gets to run. That's what you support ya Kimo. The same old shit with a face lift.

I dunno. I don't like nepotism. Say what you say about Bush, he won governer elections from Texas before he became president in an actual democratic elections. Let Jimmy win something equal in a fair
elections, then you can boast about his virtues to me all you want. Until then, he will remain nothing but an average person with an overprivilidged background in my eyes, and his daddy's name thing would have nothing to do with that opinion.

At 7/14/2005 06:45:00 AM, Anonymous Ruth said...


my impression is that you have already decided that you cannot do it and are only looking for a way out.

There must be other ways for you to exercise influence in Egypt - how about anything in the writing business? So this can't possibly be your one and only chance.

It will be hard for your family and it will probably take some time until they can accept your decision (and a few might never do it) but chances are that they will come around one day.

Don't let anybody force or manipulate you into doing something you really do not want to do. It will hurt your self-perception and your health in the long run.

At 7/14/2005 07:14:00 AM, Anonymous Don Cox said...

"You are just being selfish. Think of all that we have given you." ___ It isn't a gift if they want paying back. ____Do whatever gives you the most options for the future. Don't get locked in.

At 7/14/2005 07:19:00 AM, Anonymous Karim Elsahy said...

A3sabak ya wahsh.

Since when does intellect, experience, or a scholarly background make a leader? I’ve got my opinions of GW, since you bring him up, and he’s a lot of things but weak leader isn’t one of them. He turned out to be a very strong leader. One with a much lighter resume than Gamal Mubarak has at his age. And you don’t think being the son of a Congressman/CIA-Director/Vise-President/President helped? Being exposed to all that? What did George do by the way? Ran and lost for congress, after mid age and an abysmal business career, then got very decent help to a term as governor. Compare that to Gamals current place.

If we did have an established voting system I would think Gamal would make an interesting candidate and it is unfortunate that we don’t for this exact reason. Bush getting elected is not Assad getting elected. That’s why Gamal wouldn’t work.

Food for thought; you don’t think Gamal didn’t ever go through what you are going through right now? Hmmm?

Another thing, I’ve seen Bush too, if you weren’t impressed with Gamals presence he is certainly not the one to make comparisons too.

But you are right on the whole lack of options thing, but what can I do about that. We don’t have enough ballsy Ayman Nour’s in our society.

Oh, and you are gona do it by the way, but you know that right buddy?

Karim Elsahy

At 7/14/2005 07:48:00 AM, Anonymous Jeff said...

Good luck.

At 7/14/2005 07:58:00 AM, Blogger Baltic Waves said...

A difficult choice , although few things in life are ever clear cut. We all have to make compromises in our lives, and will those compromises allow you to sleep at night?

If you take on the challenge, knowing you will have to make compromises, will your position allow you to network and build bridges with other possible like minded individuals to bring eventual changes to your country? Do you know if there are any other possible like minded persons that could be considering working in the political machine?

What would the consequences be if after taking on this challenge you were to decide that you were not cut out for it, you do not wish to play the games necessary ? And finally, if there are indeed winds of change in the air, and you take this challenge, if the government does change, would you branded as one of the old regime, and in effect blackballed from being able to accomplish anything?

Only you my friend can make the choice, I wish you the best either way!

At 7/14/2005 08:03:00 AM, Blogger Baltic Waves said...

A difficult choice , although few things in life are ever clear cut. We all have to make compromises in our lives, and will those compromises allow you to sleep at night?

If you take on the challenge, knowing you will have to make compromises, will your position allow you to network and build bridges with other possible like minded individuals to bring eventual changes to your country? Do you know if there are any other possible like minded persons that could be considering working in the political machine?

What would the consequences be if after taking on this challenge you were to decide that you were not cut out for it, you do not wish to play the games necessary ? And finally, if there are indeed winds of change in the air, and you take this challenge, if the government does change, would you branded as one of the old regime, and in effect blackballed from being able to accomplish anything?

Only you my friend can make the choice, I wish you the best either way!

At 7/14/2005 08:09:00 AM, Blogger Mohammed said...

الى أحمد ابراهيم القاطن بباب النحاس
لا تشرب الدواء
الدواء به سم قاتل

At 7/14/2005 09:11:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From reading your post, I'd say you've already made your decision.

And it's probably the right one -- how else can Egypt change, short of violent revolution?

Your problem is how to avoid being gradually co-opted and then corrupted.

Good Luck.

At 7/14/2005 09:16:00 AM, Anonymous Karim Elsahy said...

Do you have an msn messenger account or something? I love these little debates of ours but waiting half a day for the rebuttal can get frustrating;) Email me.

At 7/14/2005 09:24:00 AM, Anonymous AGA said...

The correctness of decisions such as these turn not on the difficult, if not impossible, task of accurately anticipating the consequences of either course, but upon accurately identifying the reasons for presently making the decision one way or another. Those who truly are your family and friends will trust and accept your reasons, regardless of your decision, and your detractors will, upon learning of your decision, call into question your reasons and impute to you other reasons regardless of your decision. My own view is that it is more effective to piss from the inside rather than from the outside of a tent. Nor do I see you as one who would sacrifice his beliefs and principles, other than by natural devolopment. If you were such a person, you would long ago have discarded your outrageous views to make them more palatable to others. Mr Elsahy suggests that he might even vote for you were you to choose that tact.

At 7/14/2005 09:35:00 AM, Blogger CEP said...

I wonder, Sandmonkey, if you would continue to blog with such candor were you to follow your family's wishes in this matter?

At 7/14/2005 09:37:00 AM, Blogger Tsedek said...

"..and only a few seniors are allowed..." - not a single ray of hope in there?

You love politics - you'd like to make a difference, and that you can't do from the outside unless you create a revolution. So, I advise you to go for it. At least to give it a try.

I know too little about internal Egyptian politics to be sure, but it wouldn't be like you're stuck for life, would it? You could always get out.

You'd had to change your act though: i/o sitting in the monster's belly - think you're in a Trojan Horse... that succeeded pretty good and, I don't see any reason why you'd succeed any less as long as you remember to open the lid on time ;-)
(And I'm convinced you will, don't ask why.)

Good luck !!

At 7/14/2005 09:46:00 AM, Anonymous Ronny said...

Man, i am not gonna bother to tell you what to do, cause like all of those people i see the good and bad either way. I am just gonna donate some money so that you would have some options.

Love the blog BTW


At 7/14/2005 10:16:00 AM, Blogger ArmyArtilleryWife said...

I was going to comment but then realized everything I said would come from a very US perspective--I can't possibly understand the intricacies of Egyptian politics. If I were in your position, I would re-read biographies of reformers that have impressed you (from anywhere in the world). You may find clues in those as to whether or not you can preserve your integrity and be a positive force for change within the system or if you will be ethically safer and happier remaining an outsider.

Good luck with your decision!

At 7/14/2005 10:43:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should man up and take the job. If you have to deal with corruption do it in public. Nothing will change if you run away.

At 7/14/2005 11:43:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

sandmonkey, I have some first-hand experience in ethical dilemmas. I used to be (note the past tense) a wall street research analyst in the pre-integrity days, and once upon a time our company foisted an utter piece of shit stock onto the investment community. 20% of our capital was tied up in it. I was the lucky rah-rah girl who had to sucker people into buying it since it was in my sector. I'm a very ethical person and I would go into meetings with portfolio managers with our top people, recommend this thing to the skies, and then later, privately, call them back and tell them to avoid it at all costs. The deal bombed; the stock went from $16 to $8 before we could unload all the shares. It was the worst experience of my life. It's like being pulled apart by horses attached to your limbs.

I urge you at all costs, knowing your integrity, to avoid taking this trojan horse job. You are going to hate what you do and become. You are going to hate choosing between what's best for NDP or family versus what is right. It will make you miserable. Why don't you become some businessman giant and then influence the scene, like that Lebanese dude that got blown up? Stay outside what you already loathe.

At 7/14/2005 11:51:00 AM, Anonymous Me, Myself and I said...

SM..you know the answer, it was contained in ur post and in the response you some of the posts...reading your post, i sorta got a sense of you as a person (magnon shewaya bas malesh) and with the gut feeling i got re you will not be able or wanting to be what will become of you..yes something will become of you..have a number of my friends -who fit sorta your profile, dragged into the NDP shit, lagneet el seeyasat and else, and they simply are not able to pull out now..it is simply a new look, i do not buy this business of old gurad versus new guard.are we dump enough to fall for shewayet ingleezy andt shewayet globalized terminology ..i am not part of the party or affiliated with it the bit, but have met many who are "z new guard" and trust me..not impressed at all...kaka khalef..and listen i am a fighter a tenacious one too, but there are other venue through which you can work on bringing about change..unfortunately i do not believe that one can really bring about this change joining this beast..this beast is not for change but for preserving itself and trying to attract others with integrity, skills, intellect, to bring letgitmacy to itself..told you before kos om el feker el jaded. And lemme tell something re the "emotional blackmail" of the family...etc...you know what..it is the responsiblity of the parents to provide to their kids..we brought them to this world we provide...and if we can provide a certain standard be it...I am a mother, and i slave, lovingly to provide to my son, the best education, the best of environment, intellectual and cultural and silly and fun stimulants..it is my duty, his duty is to be respective, loving etc..but not to live my dream..i was just the channel thru which he came to live....and i hope that there won't come the time in the future that he has to pay back in such a manner-u are not being selfish deciding on how to maintain your believes and integrity...and finally I agree with you on the analysis of jimmy, he is not particulary smart, intelligent or intellectual, actually more on the dull and boring side and no charisma...but all this is besides the point..the idea is that he is the bests for this country, pisses me offf...God damn it a country of 70m and baby is the best in it...how about the process does it mean anything..eih el araf dah...do not go for it...do what you love, do it with integrity and be a good citizen and that will be a contriubtion in an by itself..

At 7/14/2005 12:00:00 PM, Blogger gbaikie said...

If you going to be handed a political position, what you could do is not just accept the position, but go out and work for the position so you aren't just being handed it, but rather earn it by getting the people's consent. In other words go door to door, talk to people, ask them for your support, ask them to support your campaign, ask them what they want from you.

You need to understand your laws, understanding your existing laws well, will allow you use this laws to further political goals and you need to know the laws in order to change them. But it is better to use and strengthen existing laws then trying to make new laws. If you have poor grasp of your laws, hire or enlist a lawyer who does.

In other words, if you going to be a politican, you better learn how to be a good politican. In order to learn to be a politican, you must realize that there is a lot to learn- just because you seen someone playing a violin doesn't mean you know all there is to playing a violin.

Another suggestion might be to trying for a higher position then one you will get easily, or plan on trying for higher posistion as soon as you get the lower position.

Finally, you are Egyptian. You should proud to be an Egyptian and should be honored to fight for your nation. Your family is not just your direct blood connection, your family is Egypt and broader world.

You have an opportunity, seize it; better others think you going too far, than not far enough.

If not you, who?

At 7/14/2005 12:34:00 PM, Blogger Polly Prissy-Pants said...

escape and come back! I'll hide you in my barn!

At 7/14/2005 12:43:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

stop being so fucking naive; anyway, if you want to make change, you can only change the system from within. Frankly, I think you're lucky to have that opportunity.

At 7/14/2005 12:45:00 PM, Blogger ArmyArtilleryWife said...

gbaikie: that is what I originally was going to post but then I thought about the bit where to "not seem a threat" he'd have to play by the rules... and I was wondering if I was just looking at it from the US perspective. I wonder if that is something workable to too conspicuous in his circumstances?

At 7/14/2005 12:56:00 PM, Blogger slyboots2 said...

Is it essential to keep the position forever? Can you take it, and if it's too awful leave? You could view it as a learning experience and get a good long look at things from the inside- and bail if you can't effect positive change of some sort. That way you can say that you tried. Good luck!

At 7/14/2005 12:56:00 PM, Blogger The Husband said...

this blog is a waste of space...thanks for slowing up the internet.

At 7/14/2005 12:59:00 PM, Blogger GNN Staff Writer said...

I often work with people who are in their 40's and looking for a vocation. Each suggestion I might make is met with the statement "But I don't want to do that". I try to explain that if you are a spouse, or a parent or even a patriot, there comes a time when it it is no longer important what you want to do. You reach that point when you are forced to ask "What must I do? What must I do for myself, my family, my children, or my country?" It is not an easy decision.

Sincerely, I pray for your wisdom.

At 7/14/2005 02:01:00 PM, Blogger Michael said...

Go for it, you selfish ungrateful bastard!


At 7/14/2005 02:01:00 PM, Blogger Michael said...

Go for it, you selfish ungrateful bastard!


At 7/14/2005 02:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You do sound a bit like Hamlet, who waited so long that all his good possibilities were gone and he had to make do with the worst.

You are still young enough that you can grow with this position. You can be an agent of positive change, if you wish. You can help yourself, and your family, and your city, and your country. No matter what you do, it will not be perfect, but you can strive for, if not the best, at least the better. Think what kind of scumbag could end up with the position if you do not.

Sure, eventually you will probably get tossed out; that happens sooner or later to all politicians. Or you might do a good enough job that you get tossed up into a better position. My brother is a politician, and he says that there are things he doesn't like doing, but that he has to do them to do the good that he is doing.

Having read your blog for a few months now, you seem like a pretty good choice. You will make mistakes. It's a real responsibility. But better you than someone completely corrupt, or worse. You can draw your own lines about what you will not do.

Good luck.

Bruce Dearborn Walker

At 7/14/2005 04:22:00 PM, Anonymous PE said...

I agree with Karim in that Gamal will make a great leader for Egypt. However, that's not the issue at hand. First off, what degree did u get SM? What kind of potential careers are you looking at? You can do just as much good for the family by getting high up in the business ranks, and it gives a lot of opportunities for wealth that don't exist as a city councilman. Is being a city councilman a full-time job? Also, what do you mean by your family getting money from shady deals? Here's my advice- run for the opposition and see if you can win. Or better yet, run as an NDP then switch sides when the opposition starts running again. In the meantime, the only way your great ideas and practical opinions will get anywhere is if they are placed in the government. You must do something with interaction with the government SM. Either build your way up the business ladder (you'd end up starting fairly high if you come from a good family) or start at the bottom of the political ladder and work your way up. Honestly, it's what your prefer. However, if I were you my materialistic side would find a way to make a bunch of money first by joining business. If your alternate career will offer you power and some interaction with government, take that road, if it doesn't, stick to politics. It will be what you enjoy. You do not need to be corrupt. There always are firsts, SM. Don't stoop down to their level. Maybe once they see how you handle things, they'd feel obliged to change. Egyptians are not inherently corrupt, cheap, or lazy. You can correct the stereotypes. You can make a difference. You know what Sam? Go for it, but only if your other career won't offer the same opportunities, and only if you won't stoop down to the corrupt level of the midlevel manager in government. Good luck SM, and did you get my email?

At 7/14/2005 04:27:00 PM, Blogger thewiz said...

SM, quite the quandry. Don't envy you at all. Does your family read your blog? Do they know how you feel on so many issues?? Do they understand that you do not share much of their beliefs in the old system?? I have a feeling that they know most of them as you probably are a tad outspoken!

Assuming they know how you feel, you can take the position and raise holly hell and they will have no right ot complain. And you can always resign in protest after many months or years. And be known as a reformer when you do. This may help set you up for a position in a new government when true elections are held.

Being in the beast will give you knowledge on who the good guys are and who the bad ones are. It will help you make contacts that may pay off in the future.

But I do not know the system. Will be an outspoken reformer endanger yourself? Will you be branded as a trouble maker and lose influence? Can you be more effective on the outside?? Can they corrupt you without your cooperation? Or can you refuse to play along with their shenanagans and expose them for what they are?

Do not sell yourself short. You have shown great courage and integrity with the posts that you have made here. Whatever choice you make will be the right one. And either one will take courage.

At 7/14/2005 05:03:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't you strike a deal with your family, tell them you'll give them 5 years, if it's truly a soul-crusher, you're checking out?

What if you discover you're a natural at consensus building?

At 7/14/2005 05:13:00 PM, Anonymous Tina said...

Sam, I think there is something you need to do before you make your decision. You said you have met Gamal, but have you ever sat down with him and talked to him about what he wants for Egypt?

I think you should find out. I think you should find some way to talk to him, privately, about what his plans are for the future of your country. You can hardly make a decision tying yourself to a man you know will be the party's leader if you do not know what he believes and if you share the same vision for Egypt.

I don't worry about you becoming corrupt, or taking bribes, it's not in you and I don't think something like holding an office would change that. What IS important is that you do something you believe in, something that will be good for the country you love.

You can't make this decision without knowing the answer about where the party's future leader wants to take the country.

At 7/14/2005 05:32:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I am not willing to martyr myself or compromise my integrity for the sake of a “greater good” that may never be realized. I am not that man." by yourself

Who are you, what are you, if you cannot be true to yourself. Tell them all to shove it; you don't owe those who are suppose to love you. I give my love freely to my children; they do not owe me anything. If they choose to take care of me in my old age, it will be their choice, because they love me, not because it is their duty.


At 7/14/2005 05:39:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well..I might as well throw my 2 cents in. Don't do it if you would really hate it. Nothing worse than having a job you hate, no matter what you're doing. If you want a job helping your country, I'm sure you could find one you love. sis from the usa

At 7/14/2005 05:41:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well dear that is a horrible decision. I also feel that you have made your decision but that you want confirmation of it... and I wish I could give it you.

I know you said that you wouldn't really be running... but my first feeling was: Run on a platform of "reform the NDP, stop corruption in Egypt." Then you wouldn't get the position, I think. If they don't want your kind in the NDP, then let them tell you they don't want you.

Or, run & the first time you see corruption first-hand, resign in protest and tell everyone what the matter was that made you resign. Expose it all. I know that seems stupid because everyone's knows it's there and it's so big -- why would it need to be exposed? Well, I guess what would be different is a man actually standing up against it, out loud.

If I felt like all your family wants is you to take the city council position I would feel differently... but it sounds like they want you in lock, stock & barrel, and you can't be in it that way without playing the game all the way... and you're not willing to do that.

Don't know if any of that rambling helped. I'll be praying for you hard, love.

At 7/14/2005 05:41:00 PM, Blogger Josie said...

Oops, anon above was me.

At 7/14/2005 05:57:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh grow up! You wouldn't have any choices at all if it weren't for your family's sacrifices on your behalf. You remind me of a self-absorbed hippie from the 60's/70's in America.

If you can get beyond contemplating your own navel and have any real concern for your country, make a committment for 5 years or so. You can always become an idle playboy later if you can't hack it in the adult world.

At 7/14/2005 06:05:00 PM, Blogger Louise said...

Wow, Sandmonkey!! Tough spot, really. I agree with Tina, though. Have a talk with the guy, if you can. And, remember one of the other cornerstones of democracy is a free press. Did you ever give any thought to trying to develop such a thing in Egypt? If you can write this well in English and with such wit, maybe that's your calling. Be a political satirist. Run a newspaper and write books. Translate Arabic writers to English. It's about God damned time the English speaking world started to learn more about the Arab world. You can be a a bridge.

At 7/14/2005 07:34:00 PM, Anonymous niletheriver said...


As a native you understand the political situation in Egypt far better than us in other countries. If deep down you fervently feel you can make a difference, then you should go for it.
Two important questions.

Do you feel you can initiate reform from the inside more easily than the outside?

Do you feel the NDP is beyond reform?

Best of luck in your decision my friend.

In any event, please keep blogging.


At 7/14/2005 07:53:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ironically, I just came back from a city council meeting! In the USA, it is a real chance to improve your community--and to listen to a lot of complaints from mostly normal but some crazy citizens. It is not a lucrative job, and generally, you cannot vote on contract awards if there is a conflict of interesting, and, obviously, bribery will land you in state prison for many years.

I gotta tell you this: The idea that only freedom and democracy will "fix" the middle east is gaining real strength here in the USA. Condi Rice was pretty direct there in Cairo a few weeks ago.

At 7/14/2005 07:56:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Accept the NDP.

Keep nixing the car.

Best of luck to you.

At 7/14/2005 09:31:00 PM, Blogger Twosret said...

At 8:09 AM, Mohammed said...
الى أحمد ابراهيم القاطن بباب النحاس
لا تشرب الدواء
الدواء به سم قاتل

In my humble opinion this is the best reply you got. Mohammed wallahi Kont hamoot men el Da7k enta mosh momken.

SM you know I told you NO NO NO NO. Everything work for the best for those who Love God.

At 7/14/2005 09:53:00 PM, Blogger strykeraunt said...

If you cannot hold the position without keeping your integrity then I believe that you should not put yourself in that position. I have a feeling that you have reached that conclusion yourself and what is stopping you is the family obligation. However, if there is any possibility that you can survive with integrity intact, I think that you may want to consider because I believe you would do great good to your country. Unfortunately, I can't imagine how you can make the type of change you desire if you have to play by rules you seem to despise so much (even if it is only temporarily).

I sincerely wish you the best. This is a very tough position you are in right now.

At 7/14/2005 10:09:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

What if you were to do this and try to reform things? Worst case scenario: Would you be in danger? Or would they just kick you out? And then what, if they kicked you out? Jail? I'm serious. What's the worst thing that could happen? What's the best that could happen? Is the risk of the realistic worst case scenario more than the realistic best case scenario is worth? Take your family out of the equation when assessing best vs. worst.
Are there others like you who would be at your side in the NDP, with whom you could be allied? Strength in numbers, remember...

You say you may not be strong enough; for what? To resist corruption, or compromising your basic beliefs? I hate to say it, but corruption (if it's nepotism or financial) isn't as grievous a sin as compromising your belief in a free society.

I'd love to say "DO IT!" because I believe in you, but I haven't a clue about the political dynamics at play or the risks to you personally or to your integrity, so it wouldn't be right for me to say yes or no. All I can say is measure the realistic risks vs. rewards.

Another question: if you were to do it and get kicked out (if that's what would happen), how much of a stink could you raise? Would you be able to to expose them from within Egypt, and have support in doing so?

I agree with ArmyArtilleryWife where she said:
"If I were in your position, I would re-read biographies of reformers that have impressed you (from anywhere in the world). You may find clues in those as to whether or not you can preserve your integrity and be a positive force for change within the system or if you will be ethically safer and happier remaining an outsider."

It won't be easy to find others in the exact same position, but yes, you may find clues.

At 7/14/2005 10:32:00 PM, Anonymous Roger Glass Roger Glass said...

I mean no offense. I'm just telling you the truth as I see it. What is stated below would be better expressed by someone with more learning in economics and government; however, I'll do the best I can

So you can see where I'm coming from, let me tell you that I'm a 51 year old American patent attorney, a Jew, and a conservative in the context of the American political system. That is, I love free enterprise and civil liberties, I hate socialism
and the welfare state, and I believe that the only legitimate function of government is to protect the life, freedom, and property of the individual. Government should not be taking from one individual to give to another, even for the most benevolent of purposes; that function is properly accomplished only by private charity.

The bottom line is that your ultimate objective should be to get out, to a free society. So your present solution is to do whatever is necessary, so that eventually you can achieve this goal.

Properly, your only ethical obligation to your family is that you should be law abiding and economically self supporting. It is morally wrong that they are asking you to sacrifice yourself in this manner. But their request is completely logical, in the context of how your society operates.

To put it bluntly, you are living in a pathological society. Your situation is a classical example of the problems that result from this pathology. David Pryce-Jones deals with this subject in his book The Closed Circle. You should read this work, to help ypu understand the nature of the problems that you are facing.

In a healthy, free society, there is rule of law - that is, the law is the same for everyone. Also, the individual's right to private property is protected - that is, the government does not allow an individual's property to be taken without his permission. Yet additionally, in such a society the government does not force people to make contracts, but does enforce a contract between two parties if both parties entered into the contract willingly; so if one party won't do what he agreed to, the other party can go to the government - usually, to the courts - to force the noncompliant party to fulfill his part of the bargain.

In such a society, an individual achieves success by creating a skill and/or a product, through study and/or work, and then going into the marketplace to exchange this skill/and or product for the skill and/or product produced by someone else. The exchange is not coerced, but occurs only if both parties freely consent - by means of contract, as referred to above.

So in this type of society - a free society - one gets along by creating wealth, and exchanging it for wealth created by another. Such societies therefore exist by the creation of wealth. That is why, in these societies, everyone who supports himself is relatively well off.

However, your society is so configured that success is not achieved by creating and exchanging new wealth, but instead by confiscating wealth already in existence. So within a particular family, the individual members compete with each other for control of the family wealth. And in turn, families conspire against each other in the same power struggle. And so on upwards.

So your society operates by the confiscation, rather than creation, of wealth. That is why it is relatively so poor - because it creates so little wealth, but instead exists by means of corruption, to get control of what little wealth actually happens to get created.

Sure there are lots of brilliant and productive Arabs in the fields of science, medicine, and engineering; as a patent attorney, I've had the privilege of working with some of them. But they're not accomplishing their achievements in Arab societies; they have to get to the West to exercise their talents effectively.

I'm sorry for any offense. But that's the truth as I see it.

You seem like a great kid. God (Allah) bless you.

At 7/14/2005 10:34:00 PM, Blogger J. Francis Lehman said...

I think you run, Sam.

I think you have the best chance of making a true change if you run.

I think you get a true insider's view if you hold office. If it is truly impossible to hold office in Egypt without being a corrupt scumbag, you resign, and parlay your visibility as a politician into a writing career.

I think you tell your family you're going to run for a chance to improve your country, not to continue their ride on Priveledge Street.

I think it will be the hardest thing you've ever done, and probably one of the hardest things anyone can do, given your country's overall situation, but you've got a golden opportunity here. You're going to have to be FIERCELY true to your beliefs; you're going to have to live them 24/7/365, and stand forth as a beacon of what you believe. It's going to seem like pushing a boulder uphill with your nose...at first. Then, you may well find that people have noticed you, and that your courage has inspired their own.

Look at it this way: At the worst, it's another school you're going to attend: The School of Elected Office. Also consider this: the person who gets the seat instead of you may well be a souless-bastard child-of-privilege, all too happy to screw those he supposedly represents in pursuit of his own power and glory. You're not going to be that person, Sam! So even if you have to make one too many deals with the Devil for your liking, even if you give it your best shot and have to let it go, you may well keep a total shitbag from getting into power.

I think you run, and pour your energy into finding every opportunity to abolish the old and establish the new.

For your amusement and enjoyment, I'll leave you with this: Monkey For President!

At 7/14/2005 11:18:00 PM, Anonymous colagirl said...

What a lousy situation. I feel for you and I'm glad I'm not in your place....and I love the familial guilt trip, too. "Do it for us. We've done so much for you...."

Sigh. I guess I say do it. You probably will end up getting corrupted to some extent, but there's a good point made that if not you then it will probably be someone much worse who doesn't even care. I agree that your chances of changing the system from within probably aren't all that good, but, you know, maybe you can make a little bit of a difference. And if enough people end up making a little bit of a difference, then over time it can add up to a big difference. All the same, I'm glad I'm not in your place. You have my sympathy.

At 7/15/2005 12:46:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You could always try the old style approach - draw a line down the center of a sheet of paper and list pros on one side and cons on the other. When it's in front of you in black and white, the answer is usually much easier to see.

Also, Roger Glass' perspective above sounds quite valid. I know you love Egypt, but I get this feeling that you were born in the wrong country. You'll always be swimming upstream there, against the current.


At 7/15/2005 03:01:00 AM, Anonymous DNA said...

Go for it, SM.

You know - pragmatic to the end.

Besides, me7tageen dahr bardo :) Remember us, ya?

At 7/15/2005 07:00:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When our country was founded, only white, male landowners could vote. Since then, it has been the people in power who have gradually extended the right to vote to others. Reform can work; the alternative is revolution, with all its attendant violence and destruction.

Your problem, if I understand it properly, is that your current system is corrupt, either through exchange of "favors" or outright bribery, and you know your family is going to want you to be an effective representative, meaning one who can get them "favors."

Such a system almost inevitably results in tremendous waste of public monies, because the public monies are paid to people who do not give good value. The 'almost' is important. One city in the US, Chicago, was famously corrupt because it ran on 'favors' and inside information. However, it was also a very well-run city. That is because there was a tradition that it was ok to get a contract by graft, provided the contract was properly fulfilled, on time, and in good order.

So, a guy might get a contract to build a city parking lot because of his brother's influence, but the contract had to be reasonable and he had to meet its terms.

That is your wedge: insist that your vote can be bought, provided that whoever gets the contract has the capability and the will to deliver good value on it. Then, when they ask for your vote the next time, ask them for an update on the status of their last contract.

You might try this philosophy out on your family, and if they are outraged by it, it's time to run. You will need their support for this to work.


At 7/15/2005 09:39:00 AM, Anonymous yinshuisiyuan said...

I'm not going to say whether you should or you shouldn't run - that's your decision. But put it another way - while it may take wasta to get in position, would you need to dispense wasta to keep it? Could you not try to maintain your principles by trying to cultivate a new form of politics? There must be likeminded people elsewhere in local government - would getting a seat and then leaving the party not be a good starting point to form a new, locally-based movement?

I'm just throwing the idea out there, I'm not saying it's a good one.

At 7/15/2005 10:38:00 AM, Blogger Highlander said...

Take the job SM , you are young enough to effect change even with the sacrifices.

At 7/15/2005 11:53:00 AM, Blogger Ahmad said...


First, let's be clear about one thing. Do NOT do it for your family. This is a decision that will effect the rest of your life; you don't want to do it because your family wants you to and you feel obliged.

I've had to take a MAJOR life changing career decision once, and all my family opposed it and didn't want me to do it for various reasons. I did it. And with time, they are happy and proud that I did what I did.

Your family are there to help you and support you, no matter what. And they weren't doing it so that you pay them back later, but because they love you. And you love them, but that doesn't mean they dictate your life. They have their life, you should have yours.

Now to the more important issue of to be or not to be:

Do you think that you can make a difference? Do you think that you will be corrupt? Do you think that the system will change you or you will change it (or at least participate in the change)?

If you can answer these questions, you are half way there.

The other half is what do you want in life? A good life? Or a decent life? Do you want to be remembered by your integrity, decency and principles, or by your rank and achievements (if any) in the government?

Remember, money and power comes and goes; but your name will stay with you, your kids and their kids. How do you like to be remembered?

If you want a good life, then be. If you want a decent life, which might become good or bad, then don't.

Of course, if you think you can change the system, then do it. But if you fail, NDP will be part of your name forever.

If I were you, I wouldn't; I don't think you can change the system. If you can, then you probably can do it from the outside (not part of the system).

But I think you will do it. Gamal will do it, and so will you :)

At 7/15/2005 02:57:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

SM...There is a test that you can take at www.kolbe.com which will tell you where your will naturally goes in terms of work including politics. Its 50 bucks and takes a couple of minutes and the results come fast.

I took it. It's unbelievably helpful in a case like this! Take it. Your parents can't argue with the facts. It will save you from all this agony.

Also...contact Mohammed from ITM by email ...he ran and has many tales and advice.

You are trying to make a decision without all the facts.

Also...if you want to come back to the States, I'm sure you have many blog-friends that would help.



At 7/15/2005 03:43:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kinda reminds me of the old joke: You can build a thousand bridges, but if you suck just one cock, no one's gonna call you "bridge builder".

LOL, still, I'd take the job. You can do far more good with power than without, and if ya get fired/sidelined for doing good, so what--you're no worse off than you are right now. Most great reformers start from within the system.

'Course this is coming from a guy who thinks the greatest job in the world would be owning a cat house in Vegas...


At 7/15/2005 04:16:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Play the game but remember what you believe. Some day you may be in a position to start the ball rolling in a different direction.

At 7/15/2005 07:14:00 PM, Anonymous Mactek said...

Here is the question you should ask yourself: IS THIS WHERE YOUR PASSION IS?

If your passion is not in it, then don't do it. You'll turn into a bitter old man.

(P.S. If you decide to go down this path, you should campaign regardless. You should be as transparent as possible to the people that you will be serving.)

At 7/15/2005 07:21:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That test will tell you where your passion is....


At 7/15/2005 09:45:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Suppose you run.

What is the chance you will land in jail or be shot? It's not like you are living in a democracy.

How about going back to school and doing a Phd. That will kill 4 years.


At 7/15/2005 10:10:00 PM, Blogger Orientalism said...

"no offense intended SM, this is just my personal take on what might happen. Greetings to you all from down under."

The year is 2040, SM has become a big shot business tycoon in Egypt. He is married to a cairo socialite and has with 3 children. His marriage is an unhappy one, he keeps a beutiful mistress, a 2nd grade sopa opera actress and an aspiring musician, and he runs away to meet her at his flat in london. He has become obese, with high blood pressure. He has no moral scruples, he uses his goverment connections to strike down all competition.

His goverment buddies urge him to run for parliment, they tell him to run in a local circuit where his opponents have already been bought, or intimidated and harrased. He accepts. He gets elected to parliment. He co-chairs the industrial commettee that regulates his own business, he is further able to expand it.

There is unrest in Egypt,after 2 decades of relative prosperity, President Gamal Mubarak is unable to fullfill his promises to the egyptian people, so he strikes down on all opposition. SM's personal friend, the minister of interior is known to be sadistic in crushing any opposition, which he does, brutally.

SM sends busloads of his employees to vote in municipal,parliment and presidential elections whenever neccesary. The opposition papers constantly attack SM and his crony friends, labeling them " the true parasites of Egypt".

SM, contemplating his life, asks himself, " whatever happend to me? Whatever happened to that idealistic young man who beleived in justice?"

He scrubs that thought in an instant, looks at the batch of viagra xxl on his desk, thinking " who am i to change the world? Fuck it" He calls his agent to get him the first flight to london, he needs a break from it all and he musnt keep yasmina waiting in the flat in london for too long. He's sure she will love this new diamond brooch he bought her, costing him more than 1000 egyptians make in a year, but well worth it......

At 7/15/2005 11:46:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sam, What a choice. I thought it was between Kuwait and New Jersey!
Only you can decide, but if it gets to be too much, let me know and I'll send you a ticket.

At 7/16/2005 02:22:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cannot tell you to run for a party whose head of Human Rights Committee at the parliament is the same officer who tortured leftists for a decade, and who tortured Christian peasants in alKoshh.

And this is one man in NDP.

Needless to say, their numbers are diminished to the thousands and thousands of Islamists, or their relatives, or neighbors, or even, believe me, their barbers.

And torture is only one thing.

I think I am just like you, SM. There is no solid ground for my ethics. They just came along. I know I would not be happy running for the Apartheid, but then again, where is that line? When does it become OK to be corrupt, or support corruption?

I think my minimum is no political detainees, no emergency status, and physical safety to Egyptians practicing their freedom of expression. Only then we can start talking business. Before that, I belong to the demonstrations in the streets.

Wow, I guess I am human.

At 7/16/2005 10:11:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's interesting to see how many people tell you to run for the good of your country even if you don't really want to...and I bet anything most of them never ran in their own country for anything! sis from the usa

At 7/16/2005 12:52:00 PM, Blogger Mohamed said...

You know what I think of this buddy: Join the NDP, and be all you can be, we ow3a te3mel peppee..

Once you join, I'll be your best friend.

At 7/16/2005 02:01:00 PM, Blogger Kat said...

Lots of advice here and points of views. I am almost reluctant to add my voice.

From what I read, you seem to have a little excitement in your post in the thought of "getting into the fight" so to speak. You don't totally reject it and isn't just about your family. You want to do something and this whole thing seems prescient, having your idea handed to you on a platter, but sitting on the platter next to your dream is the viper or asp that would quite happily sink it's fangs into your breast, kill you and slither on to its next victim. You are wondering if you can snatch your dream from the platter without being bit.

Something that you should understand, no matter what government, US, France, Egypt, etc, the idealist in every politician doesn't survive the first year. Mainly because government is run on compromise and, yes, even in the US, a form of "wasta". Do not fool yourself and think otherwise or that, if some other government came to power, the government of the people, that who you know and the committees you set on won't be as important as they are now with the NDP.

The difference in the future may only be whether it is being done "for the people" as opposed to "for self" (or family). At least, if one can do it for someone other than themselves, it is likely that some change could occur.

But, with all honesty, the only way things change is if the elected officials really are accountable to the people and can be thrown out of office or voted out if the people believe otherwise. Until then, there will be no reform. You should know from history, friend, that "inside reformers" often turn into the revolutionaries who turn into the new dictatorship if they hold power through power alone and not as an accountable elected official to the people.

That is the strenght of democracy, that even though "power corrupts" they cannot stay there forever (unless their names are kennedy, Clinton, Byrd, thurmond...you get the picture)

You are at the age now, friend, where your idealism has been tempered some from experience, yet you still dream, as we all do sometimes, of being in the front, holding your banner high, leading on to some great victory that will change the world around you. As many a reformer has found, the big dream collapses in the reality of dealing with day to day administration and your victories begin to be measured in the small things that are accomplished and you sometimes must be content with that. When you came to slay the dragon but found that the most you could do was clip it's wings and keep it from destroying you and yours today.

From each side I see good answers and ideas. To put it very bluntly you can:

a) Refuse the position and expect that your family will just accept it sooner or later while you suffer through their pouting and sad glances (this is the easy part actually, much easier to suffer those disappointed glances than to wake up in your nightmare). You can still get into politics and you can still work towards changing your world. It can't be stopped because you refuse to go down in the belly of the beast.

b) Run for office and do as my grandma always said, "start as you mean to go on" which would entail not accepting bribes, kickbacks, side deals that would net you or yours personal gain, meeting with or trying to get a relationship with your constituents (even those that don't vote for you) and no matter what you do, always do what is best for them first.

You could, by al means and intents, start your own political "inside group", send out newsletters, make trips into your part of town, make public speeches about democracy and citizen responsibility and, never promise what you cannot deliver only promise that you will work to deliver it and then, if you must compromise on something, make sure it is to get your constituents something they need so they will understand that you work for them, not for you. You could even be completely crazy and, in a fit of transparency, publish your income and accounts quarterly in a newsletter so that your constituents know that you are "starting as you mean to go on", showing the way to "transparency". You could start a new trend.

c) Join, go in and serve for a few months and then "resign in protest" as someone suggest here. One word of caution, I suggest that, if the idea is to expose corruption, you will have to be quiet and watch for a long time, documenting many things that you will have to hold out of the public eye until you do so and, of course, you will have to be prepared for return allegations.

a fourth though...

d)Run for office. Serve as best as you can for a year or so and, prior to the next elections, declare yourself an Independent or part of some party that you create yourself (just make sure you have a decent platform)

I wanted to pause and speak to the people about "Gamal" and telling SM that they have a problem with his views on Palestine. He's running for city council. Yes, the national party is important in all elections there, but the best way to go is to act like you want the position and are working to own it by not giving the people bad slogans and half assed political rallies, really talk about things, stand on the corner, say your piece.

In the US, a 25 year old man was elected to government by simply going from door to door and holding little "rallies" that were cheap. It can be done.

But, just so you understand, you should see that, if you do not take this position, it does not mean that you cannot have your dream of changing things or changing people. This is not the end of you or your voice and certainly, with the strength of the democracy movement, you could lend your weight to it. You do not have to go into the belly of the beast to rip it's heart out. You can reach down it's throat if you need to.

At 7/16/2005 03:05:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to forget, folks, if Sam tries too hard "not to go along" or to "change things," he could end up in prison for a very long time. This is not like a US political party.

At 7/16/2005 06:37:00 PM, Blogger R said...

Sorry Sam that I couldn't read all the 78 comments, but it seems a lot of them encourage you. I was about to think pragmatically and advice you to go for it; I was also about to be "postmodern" and tell you to take your time and decide. I suddently though felt bad, and thought about when I was myself asked to "join" by a person whom I respect. So here is my answer: NO NO NO.
You will regret it forever and you will lose yourself.

"For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?"

At 7/17/2005 09:17:00 AM, Blogger stefania said...

Dear, DO WHAT YOU WANT. Follow what your mind tells you to do. Don't let the others decide what you should do.

It was for me,I'd never run for a party belonging to an undemocratic leader.

So, make your mind and don't renounce to your interior freedom !

At 7/17/2005 06:55:00 PM, Blogger thewiz said...

Wow, amazing how many people care about ya! Gotta make ya feel good! Doesn't make your choice easier but know that no matter what you decide, we are all on your side.

At 7/17/2005 08:06:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

This suggestion:
Also...contact Mohammed from ITM by email ...he ran and has many tales and advice.

is exactly what I was going to say now. Those guys (Iraq the Model) have got to have some good advice for you, and probably would be all too happy to help, since they're in your part of the world and have finally gotten a taste of freedom.
They may have advice that may take you in a whole different direction, for that matter.

At 7/18/2005 01:13:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rotten situation you've been put in.

The way things work in your country, it's unlikely that meaningful change will come from within the government, such changes will probably be spurred on by those outside the government.

Maybe it comes down to what kind of a person you want to be. Be true to yourself, you're the one who will have to live with yourself.

At 7/18/2005 04:31:00 AM, Blogger Adam Gurri said...

Though it's unlikely that you'll read this, with the orgy of comments you've already gotten, and even less likely that you'll view my perspective as useful (as I am less experienced than you in nearly every sense), I like you a lot and I'd like to offer my two cents, for what it's worth.

There are reasons to do this. Yes, it would help your family. But on top of that, it would give you a margin--even if I can't pretend to know how small--of influence that you wouldn't otherwise have. If you want to help your country move in a democratic direction, it seems like this would be a place to start--even if the post would not be attained through democratic means. But the fact that no post CAN be achieved through democratic means is precisely the problem--and having a democratic spirit within the system can only help the movement towards freedom, not hurt it.

That said, it's obviously a lot of responsibility, and it'll probably feel like a lot of work with little payoff most of the time.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, do it if you feel like what you could accomplish, in terms of the benefits to your family as well as influencing the nation, even in a tiny way, in the right direction, outweighs the burden of the post's responsibilities. Don't let your family guilt you into it, because it's not like THEY are the ones making the decision, right? It may be "selfish" of you not to want to do it, but it is equally selfish of them to demand it.

If the audacity of such words coming from one as ignorant in the ways of the world as I justifiably irritates you, please feel free to bitch me out--I'm not in your situation and I don't have to make the hard decision you are making. But I hope for the best for you and regardless of what you chose, I believe you are an honorable and capable man, Mr. Sandmonkey :)

At 7/18/2005 05:26:00 AM, Blogger Kat said...

F*ck it. I was trying to be diplomatic and reasonable. you want the truth? The world is full of compromises that eats away at your honor and soul. it doesn't mean you have to actively seek your destruction.

And, if you think it is going to be destroyed anyway, do it with honor and don't sell your soul. Join the freaking opposition. You've been dipping your toes in it anyway.

Don't get fooled with that "up and coming" younger reformers bullshit either. Mubarak has been in power for 24 years. I bet there have been all sorts of "up and coming reformers" who thought exactly what your mom is telling you. Even in American politics, the old stay on and stay around, holding on to power. Don't think some 50 year old guy with 25 years in is going to start acquiescing power to some young guy like you or change his mind after all that time. He's going to try to hang on for the next 20. he'll just nod and smile at your proposals while he votes down the next reformation of the election rules or make sure there is some little rule inside the rules that keep it the same while giving the appearance of change to make you feel good about it and then he'll go back smoking his cigars and sipping sweet tea and lining his freaking pockets.

At 7/18/2005 08:22:00 AM, Blogger Steve in Boston said...

Sam, I say go for it. You ARE political, whether you want to admit that or not :) Look deep, deep in your heart, and just ask yourself this one question.

Can I make a difference?

If that answer is yes, then you should do it. Do it for many reasons, not only because your family wants you to.

Do it for yourself, and your future children.

If it helps your family out, in the process, so what? They will then owe you for your sacrifice, rather than reminding you until the day you die, that you refused. Perhaps you can clean their money in the process, and help pave the way for others to fix the broken system that currently exists.

But, the number 1 reason why I say go for it, is this.

Egypt is going through changes. The old guard is leaving, and new faces are appearing on the scene, for the first time, in a long time.

As you said yourself, the time is perfect for you and your cousin to do this. Another time may never come again. Seriously, you write about how broken the system is, you often have very keen insights and observations, and I think that your country (and indirectly, the world), needs people like you to step up and try to fix what everyone knows is broken.

And if none of those reasons are good enough, here's another...

We loyal fans of yours, want to be able to say we know a famous Egyptian politician, so do it for us ;)

At 7/18/2005 11:46:00 AM, Blogger DaKruser said...

They way to disrupt the beast is FROM its belly, SM. Create such a bad case of indigestion something must happen.
You say yourself, that Egypt is on the cusp of change, and right now the only real ELEMENT for change is the MB. Be a force for good! You can do it! Keep saying in the Council what you say here. Either they change, or ask you not to run again.
Stay safe. Stay VOCAL. Stay the SandMonkey!

At 7/23/2005 01:32:00 PM, Anonymous Frodo said...

And I will remain Galadriel, and diminish....
-The Lord of the Rings


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