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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

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Pay it Forward and Pay it Back!

So now what? I keep asking myself that question ever since the preliminary results of the election came out. The news reports confirm that Mubarak , as expected, won by a landslide in an election that only 22.5% of the registered voters were able to vote. The battle was lost; the man is with us all for another 6 years, whether we like it or not. The only questions is: what are we going to do now? Well, the way I see it, we have a number of options: We could 1) Run over to the Mubarak camp and start congratulating the winner and kissing up to him; 2) We could throw our hands back in frustration and join the absolute majority of Egyptians who do nothing except bitch and moan about how bad things are, but never really do anything about it; 3) We could lick our wounds, say that it's all hopeless and plot our escape from this sinking ship; or 4) We could start preparing for the next battle. Those are our only options: Kiss up, give up, run-away or prepare for war. We do not get a 5th one. Now, I am not a big fan of option # 1 as anyone who reads my blog would know. I am a little blunt, ill-mannered, rudely outspoken, and prone to telling people exactly what I think of them, so it's not like I really have a choice in that matter. Option #2 sucks as well, because it doesn’t really get you anywhere. You would just be a waste of oxygen and space, alive but not really living, and that does not appeal to me in any way. I mean, come on, seriously, what am I going to do then? Watch Sitcoms, buy little gadgets to make me feel happy and eat at McDonalds for the rest of my life? Screw that! I can’t do it! Not this Sandmonkey. This leaves us with 2 options: Either run-away or Fight back. Flight or Fight. I would be lying if I didn't say that running away is the most appealing option, or admit that I have been preparing for it for quite some time now, cause I have been. It's the smartest and safest of all the options, but now is not the time for it. Now is the time to fight back. Someone will surely tell me: "Well how do you propose to do that, Mr. Smarty pants? The election is over. Mubarak already won. We lost that battle!" To them I say: yeah, we lost that battle, but we didn’t lose the War. There is a more important battle that's coming up in 2 months and it's one that I know we could win. And yes, I am talking about the Parliamentary elections. The Parliamentary elections are in November, which also happens to be that magic month where the government allows people to obtain Voter registration cards, provided they apply for them. This is not like the Presidential election, where it was a huge fight over one seat; In this election there are 444 seats that could be contested in the Upper House alone. That's 444 different elections, and we are still not counting the 222 seats in the lower house or the municipal elections. Those are all happening in November, and are a lot harder to control and forge then the Presidential elections. It's a completely different ballgame and one that we can win. All that we would need is to get the people involved. We need to get them to go and register to vote, get a voting card and on voting day get them to vote. It doesn’t matter who they would vote for, they can pick whichever candidate or party they want, as long as it's not the NDP candidate. A large enough turnout would limit the NDP's ability to forge the election, if not prevent it completely, and it would give the Opposition parties a percentage that's higher then the mandatory 5% that they need to be able to run in the next presidential election. Plus, it would create an NDP purge in the Parliament, thus making sure that they don't get to dominate the debate or get away with the shit that they usually get away with. The Opposition would become a real opposition, one that will hold the president and the ruling party accountable for their actions. In short, you can effectively make their lives hell. The Question posed by the-negative-realists-who-never-do-anything then becomes: "Well, that's wonderful in theory and all, but how could you convince your people to go out and vote?" They then, with the smug smile of People–in–the–know, continue informing you exactly why you are wasting your time: "The Egyptian people are cowards, they are negative, and they are ignorant. You need to educate them first. You can't do that in 2 months!" That's true! I can't do that in 2 months, not without your help! In order for this to work, everyone has to sign on. It has to be a grassroots effort, below the government's radar, that aims to mobilize the largest amount of voters possible and it has to be an independent initiative started by individuals like you and me. We can not wait on the opposition parties to get the bigger or more organized or get gutsier in their recruitment initiatives. We have to seek them out, help them become bigger, and influence their thinking and methods so that they can appeal to more voters. "All of that is beautiful and all", I can hear you groan, "But how can we do it?" Ok, this may sound strange so you may just have to follow me till the end here, but remember the movie Pay it forward? If you don’t or haven’t seen it, it's a movie about a kid that started a movement of doing good deeds: You do a good deed to 3 strangers, on the condition that they each do a good deed to 3 other strangers with the same condition, and so on and so forth. To basically pay the good deed forward, while multiplying it by 3 every single time. It's a cute little film. Anyway… The Point is, you can use that same method when it comes to the November vote: All you have to do is to each convince 3 different people today to go get their voter registration cards and come November to vote for anyone who is not NDP. You also ask them to each approach 3 different people and convince them to participate, get voter registration cards, vote for anyone but NDP come November, and convince 3 other people to do the same. That's it! That's all you have to do. Pay it forward, so we can PAY THE NDP BACK for ruining our country by kicking their candidates out of parliamentary office. It really is that simple. I already convinced a Taxi driver and 2 of my fiends, and I am not stopping there. I will talk and try to convince anyone who will listen. But you don’t have to do that. All you have to do is to convince 3 people. That's all I ask from you. The reason why I care so much about this is simple: If we don’t do this now, our country will be lost to the powers of chaos for the next 6 years, and I am not just talking about increased corruption or unemployment. I am talking about a full bloody war that will take place if the status quo remains the way it is. What? You think I am exaggerating? I wish I was! All I know is this, there are 2 ways to change a country: the Ballot or the Bullet. Ever since the Nasser take-over democracy was taken away from us as an option, and that was ok, because at least we always had the hope that we would have it one day. We never had it, so we knew that the day we would have it, we would finally be able to rule ourselves and our country. Now, with the way this democratic election took place, that hope is dead. This election, with its rules for the next elections, made sure that democracy in Egypt became nothing but a meaningless hollow concept, and that no change will ever be allowed to take place. The People of Egypt understand that. They will believe that peaceful change is now out of the question, that Mubarak aims to really give the rule to Gamal and is not content with leaving Egypt alone even after his death; that the regime will continue with the same modus operandi and nothing will ever get better or improve. Their hope for any kind of future will die, and it will be replaced with resentment and rage. With the Ballot no longer an option, they will resort to the Bullet. Violence will be the only choice they have left and they will eventually resort to it. Don't kid yourself by saying that this won’t happen. It will. It already is happening in Sinai and it will only get worse from there. How long do you think they will be able to keep this up? How long do you think before the average Egyptian will resort to violence or crime to feed his kids? For how much longer do you think the Center will hold? If people lose all hope then it won’t be long. If this country, if any of us, is to have a future, we have to change things now. We have to upset the balance of Power, make the game a little fair and ensure that the next election isn’t played by the same rules as this one. This is only possible if we change the people in the Parliament, and that's only possible if we vote them out and bring the opposition in. Just get a voting card, convince 3 people to do the same, and go and vote the day of the elections. It really is that simple. The stakes are as high as they are going to get people. Please, I beg you all, don’t let this country down. It's now or never! Be Heroes!

24 Comments:

At 9/09/2005 10:51:00 AM, Blogger Highlander said...

That SM is a beautiful rallying, from my side I'm going to try to convince 3 Egyptian expatriates, they are allowed to vote right ?

 
At 9/09/2005 11:23:00 AM, Blogger ritzy said...

I wish I didn't have to say it but you are so right and I am frightened. The lard ass gadget collecting mc donald's eating class will not think tomorrow is any different from yesterday, bar what's on telly in the night. But the fast-legged guys in the Sinai mountains... the saiidis who are not yet exhausted... and wait until the unemployed in Ismaleya, Mansora, Benha etc. decide they can't take it any more (and they can't, trust me, they can't much more longer). And had the incumbent not realized the danger he wouldn't have bothered putting on the show in the past weeks.

Yes, we should convince everybody to participate. And don't stop, just convince as many we can.

Highlander -- any expat who doesn't vote should be ashamed, let's try to rally them via the internet.

God Bless / xxx

 
At 9/09/2005 11:47:00 AM, Blogger Kender said...

Good Luck SM.....I hope fervently that change in Egypt is peaceful....if it comes to a bloody change please leave....we can't afford to lose one of the only sensible Egyptians most of us know.

 
At 9/09/2005 11:54:00 AM, Blogger Masraya said...

SM, i was depressed and now you've inspired me. i'm going to spread your warcry to everyone i know and tell them to spread it too.
as for the expat issue ya highlander and ritsy, i'm living in D.C. and they told us here (the embassy) that we're not allowed to vote in the presidential elections because "it would be too much of a logistical challenge".. i took that to mean that "we know everyone living outside of masr will not vote for mubarak so we'll just not allow it". in any case, i'll check on being allowed to register in november from here or even vote but i'm not keeping my hopes up.
but if we're not allowed, we will rally everyone we know who is in masr and we will take back our country!

 
At 9/09/2005 12:32:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I think that Mubarak is a disaster and it's time for the Egyptian people to stand up and change things, there is a lingering worry in my mind.

Who, besides Mubarak, is going to even pretend to stand up to the MB? What happens if MB delegates are elected because of a strong voting block against unaffiliated voters?

Does anyone have a concern that Egypt might move ever closer to a theocracy due to the apathy of non-fanatical voters?

 
At 9/09/2005 01:36:00 PM, Blogger The Sandmonkey said...

Anonymous, let's get something straight: Mubarak doesn't stand up to the MB.He just doesn't like them. They would join him and support him in a heartbeat if he lets them. So yeah, they are whores, and that was proven by the amount of MB "independents" voted in the last election who later joined the NDP. So screw the MB.

Secondly, I am sick and tired of this line: You are afraid of a theocracy? How much worse could it possibly get dude? Honestly, at this point, any change, any way of moving in a defined direction is better then what we have. But rest assured, the MB are not that powerful and they will never get enough support to "take over" egypt. The people here equally do not trust them.

Now, I dunno about you, but I doubt that any of the MB people or islamic fanatics will be reading my blog anytime soon. But if they manage to get the vote and get isndie the parliament and become an actual opposition, then more power to them. If we truly want a democracy, so we shouldn't be afraid of its consequences. Rest assured that when I said anyone other then the NDP I meant it, even if it means the turncoats at the MB.

However, you should notice that i appealed that people vote for other political party candidates, becauyse we need for the opposition parties to have a higehr percentage in the parliament, so that come next election they can run against the NDP candidate. We want stronger presence to opposition parties so that they can ensure some fairness and hold the government to some level of accountablity, not to mention to kick hopefully lots of NDP bastards out. Things need to chnage man, for better or for worse, and we need to be the ones chnaging them. Our destiny needs to be our own, or we are nothing!

 
At 9/09/2005 02:28:00 PM, Blogger R said...

OK Mr. Smarty pants, I'm with you 100%. Although I'm opposed to most of your views on US politics and world mess...
You got the priviledge of being connected, stay anonymous and low-profile, and get us the insider news.

I'm just still amazed: why these bastards made it 88%.. It was much cuter for them at 78%. Did Shazly intervene at the last minute against Gamal's will? The latter seemed to be stisfied with the 78% "landslide".

Also, would it be reasonable to promote a union of liberals (Wafd+Ghad=Waghd??)
cheers

 
At 9/09/2005 04:20:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what do u mean go & vote for anyone but not the NDP candidate? That statement is absolutely absurd & irresponsible.
problem you see is, NDP & non NDP are all the same whatever you say, you still claim its up to one person & i can assure you, truth can not be more far than what you believe.
What if none of the candidates are worth it? what if by chance the NDP candidate is good, or are they all bad eggs?

 
At 9/09/2005 04:30:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sandmonkey
I really think you could be mistaken when you say the MB arent trusted by people, I think they are popular now & whether or not they take over one day is up to the people, but one thing is for sure, if they ever do take over, this country will go down hill faster than a skydiving elephant who lost his parachute.

 
At 9/09/2005 07:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sandmonkey, the winds of change, and I hope modernity, are blowing across Egypt. My earlier post was about my concerns about what happens when the status quo is changed. It's a dangerous time for the country and for democracy. Maybe it's the fire you have to walk through the way the American colonists fought the British. Change is long overdue in Egypt and most of the middle east.

However, those who actively oppose the NDP and the MB are not organized, and don't have the resources those two groups have. You said it yourself, Egyptian people are apathetic.

Maybe these elections will light a fire under people, but old habits die hard and some people never overcome inertia. All I meant is that people like yourself need to be prepared for what may lie ahead. Both of those groups will fight to the death, and secularism and the rule of law are not exactly popular concepts in most of the country.

I admire your vision and that you have the courage of your convictions. It is important to me and to many of your readers that you at best succeed and at least survive. Rafiq Harriri was rich, powerful, had good connections and was as protected as anyone can be. His story proves that none of us are immortal.

Just consider how to build the kind of consensus necessary to provide strenth in numbers. This is a power struggle and the people of Egypt are neither aware of their power nor their ability to use it.

 
At 9/09/2005 07:34:00 PM, Anonymous PE said...

God bless you Sam, and hopefully this project works and we can have a vibrant parliamentary democracy. Honestly, that matters more than the president. At least we know Mubarak will keep relations good with Israel, if elections come along and people need to play to the wishes of the masses we might see progress on that front overturned to get votes. Still, democracy is good. If Gamal Mubarak ran in a democratic election, I'd support him, that's without a doubt. I'm waiting a while to get my Egyptian passport and be able to vote though, being born and raised American I thus have an American passport, which is really useful anyway.

 
At 9/09/2005 09:56:00 PM, Anonymous Tina said...

That's the spirit Sam. If you want something you have to reach out and grab it.

What difference does it make if he won by 88% or by 78%, the simple fact is most already knew that Mubarak was going to win. If you move enough voters, you will have a couple of years to find a suitable candidate and get him/her out in front of the people enough to make sure their name is recognized by everyone before the next big election.

 
At 9/10/2005 01:09:00 AM, Blogger The Sandmonkey said...

Anon 420: you said "what do u mean go & vote for anyone but not the NDP candidate? That statement is absolutely absurd & irresponsible.
problem you see is, NDP & non NDP are all the same whatever you say, you still claim its up to one person & i can assure you, truth can not be more far than what you believe."

The only irresposnible thing is to leave this country and parliament for anothr 6 years in the hands of the NDP. And i am sorry, they are not all the same. NDP is super extra corrupt. And yes, I want to punish all NDP people, all of them. As far as i am concerned are bad eggs that shouldn't be there and should be held acounatble for their actions. If you have another way to hold them acounatble, I am all ears!

 
At 9/10/2005 01:39:00 AM, Blogger Shamoussa said...

Sam, I'm with you 100%
Let's pay it forward!

 
At 9/10/2005 05:14:00 AM, Anonymous Don Cox said...

You are absolutely right. Registration is the key. Democracy can't start until everyone can vote. They need to be able to read too.

 
At 9/10/2005 05:35:00 AM, Anonymous Raptor said...

I read your blog daily,BP.You write well and hve alot of Common Sense.
I wish you all the best,you embark on what could be a dangerous journey.Dictators do not give-up power willinglly,most times political change starts with one person and swells into an overwhelming flood.I will pray for you and those like or those you recruit that change comes peacefully.Ballets not Bullets is the best way,watch your 6,Bro.

I am an American who wishs you all the best,I will be praying for Eygypt.

 
At 9/10/2005 05:38:00 AM, Anonymous raptor said...

p.s.What is that Word Verification thingy at the bottom of the page?

 
At 9/10/2005 03:33:00 PM, Anonymous mariam said...

i know this movie and really find the idea so brilliant

 
At 9/10/2005 11:34:00 PM, Blogger Tomanbay said...

Thank God. It's about time somebody believes that change can be made, and is even promoting grassroot action. I think your line of thinking is great, but it lacks one fundamental element: who to vote for??
I think part of democratic growth for us as people is to move away from the "vote for anyone but NDP" mentality to a more educated vote. What I am saying is that if every single one of us tried to vote for anybody but the NDP, the NDP will win because they're much more able to consolidate their base (read my blog entry here
) and even if the NDP candidates didn't win, only God knows what kind of candidates will (the last elections proved the ability of Egyptian opposition parties to come up with all kinds of wackos).
A better strategy, I believe, would be to pick a few candidates, based on their programs, qualifications, etc.. and try to push them, campaign for them, and even fund raise for them, so that when they do win (preferably against some prolific NDP figures) people will take notice. They'll take notice that good programs, and good candidates could actually win (i am currently writing about this exact point, any input would be appreciated), and that if efforts are directed aggresively in one direction, the NDP could be beaten even on their own turf.

Thanks

Toman

 
At 9/11/2005 01:53:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They are all the same. No such thing as super corrupt as simply the rest are super corrupt in waiting.
As for accountability which is a middle eastern rarity since antiquity, no i dont see it growing here in the forseeable future no matter who wins.

 
At 9/11/2005 01:53:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They are all the same. No such thing as super corrupt as simply the rest are super corrupt in waiting.
As for accountability which is a middle eastern rarity since antiquity, no i dont see it growing here in the forseeable future no matter who wins.

 
At 9/11/2005 01:50:00 PM, Anonymous Rebel said...

hi SM,nice work,go ahead and God bless u..i just have some comments,1st,i dont wanna disappoint u,but the idea of registering to vote is not correct,ppl who arent already registered will not be able to vote in the coming parliamentary elections,coz modifying the voters' lists happens only after the whole registration process is over,which is in january..but let's not get too frustrated,ppl who r born in 84,85&86 r automatically registered and need not register again!
2nd,about choosing anyone who is not NDP,i'd like u to notice that in the last elections in 2000,NDP officially won less than one third of the seats!but later the other 2 thirds joined the NDP either under threats of not ever winning again or under promises of more lightshed and more services in their city of origin!so it's not just any other candidate,ok?
N.B.no MB members ever joined the NDP,plz check ur sources!
finally,i support ur idea,let's all do it,and why dont we make it a whole awareness program?why dont we prepare a solid message against the allegations of the regime and convey it to all the egyptians?
good job,keep goin!

 
At 9/11/2005 01:53:00 PM, Anonymous Rebel said...

i feel that the MB r used by the regime as a scarecrew to make ppl afraid of democracy that might help MB take over egypt!even the americans started to realize that this is absurd!for example,in the bar elections earlier this year,the MB couldnt take over the syndicate,though it was free elections!

 
At 9/11/2005 01:55:00 PM, Anonymous Rebel said...

more about MB,there r many misconceptions about them!ppl usually compare the Talibans with MB,which is totally untrue!any young man who studied in the egyptian universities or even the AUC got to know and meet the MB and for sure they r not Talibans!
plus,democracy is about majority,and if u call for democracy then u shouldnt fear victory of ur opponents,and if the majority chooses the MB,then we should accept them!and for anyone who may accuse the egyptians of ignorance and immaturity;then wt's the difference between u and Mubarak?u both share the same beliefs!

 

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