2011 Essay Contest Winner: Television

Nike Alade, Television

A democracy is a form of government in which the people have equal rights and participation in the government. This power is used by the people to elect officials who represent their views and wishes, and protect their rights. It is the key to a successful, peaceful and content country. The significance of democracy lies in affecting internal peace and foreign affairs. Recently, some of the Arabic countries have been rebelling against their leaders, wanting for democratic rule. These people feel as if they need a new form of government to make things better. They wanted to have basic human rights, to be able to choose their leaders, to be allowed to speak their minds without fear and be able to advance economically. In the fight for democracy, there have been dangerous riots.

During the 2011 protest in Egypt, the citizens protested against their president of 30 years, Hosni Mubarak. At the time of the protest Egypt was considered to be an autocratic society in which the ruler had unlimited power.1 The protest was partially due to the citizens hearing about Gamal, Mubarak’s son, ‘possibly’ becoming their new president. The people had wanted a new democratic government, and a plan had already been laid out for the election this coming June, and for transition. After learning of Mubarak’s plans, they felt there would not be any changes and the government would not represent the people. Therefore oppression would continue. They had lost what is known in the United States as the 1st amendment rights. They had no right to freedom of speech, press or assembly. News was censored and controlled by the government. Even published books were censored. After 18 days, Mubarak resigned and the citizens were a step closer to reaching their goal. The United States and other countries are watching Egypt closely though because one of its major groups, The Muslim Brothers, is an Islamic stronghold. It is believed that if they were to rule Egypt, terrorism would increase. Also because of oil, Egypt affects the economy of other countries.

Soon after this incident, many Libyans protested against President Muammar Qadhafi, believing they could have the same success as Egypt. Libya is an authoritarian type of government, in which the state gets involved in the peoples’ lives. The rebellion was caused by citizens not benefitting from the wealth of the country and not getting jobs. Also there was high poverty among the majority of the citizens, causing frustration with them. However, this protest was completely different than the one in Egypt. For one, Qadhafi was willing to do anything to keep his position. Qadhafi used military power to attack the ‘rebels’ and innocent civilians. Since the uprising, gas prices have gone up. In the United States, gas prices have reached $4 per gallon in five states.2 This is from the supply of oil decreasing because oil fields are being shut down or taken over by the ‘rebels.’3 When the price of oil increases, gas and other products’ prices go up as well. If the unrest continues to other oil producing countries, the impact on the oil market will be felt around the globe.

Although many people believe the United States of America is a democracy, it is actually federal republic with a distinct democratic practices.4 This means that the central government’s power is limited by the Constitution and the states are somewhat self-governed. The power belongs with the people when they vote for their representatives. Compared to Libya, the United States gives its’ citizens more freedom. In the United States, people are allowed to protest the government without having to worry about being tried for treason or being killed, unlike in Libya. Also, in the U.S., citizens are more connected to the representatives and can communicate with them, and thus rebellions do not usually happen. In Libya, there is no way for the people to communicate with Qadhafi and express their concerns. Another thing is that in a democracy, there are three branches of government that make it easier to establish order. The branches are judicial, legislative, and executive. With these three branches of government, the power is balanced out so no one branch has more control than another branch. In Egypt and Libya, there is only one central power.

Being in a democracy, people have a better chance at freedom. They get more opportunities and fewer restraints. By electing their representatives, the people get to choose who will best express their ideas and concerns. This means that the people get to control how they want to be governed. Many countries strive to be a democracy because they believe it is the best way to govern a country. Overall, a democracy can help bring about peoples’ individual rights. In addition, a democracy can help stabilize oil production and the economy of countries, which countries directly affects the global economy through supply and demand. The less oil that is available, the higher the price is. Increased oil prices affect the price of everything from transportation to food. When prices of everyday goods increase in other countries, the citizens often turn to their government for answers and relief. This may lead to discontent with elected officials and may even influence upcoming elections. Changes in political leadership can affect international relationships. With a democracy, there tends to be more peace and contentment within the country. The greater the satisfaction, the less chance there is for political unrest. Political unrest often affects both national and global economies and politics, and therefore it affects international relations.

Footnotes

1. http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/egypt/index.html

2. Chris Kahn, Gasoline averaging $4 a gallon in 5 states (The Miami Herald, 2011)

3. Mai Lee, Libyan Political Unrest Causes Increases In Domestic Oil Prices (eWireInformer, 2011)

4. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/

Bibliography

  • Aoqui, Cássio. The real importance of democracy. World Poverty and Human Rights. 2010
  • Kahn, Chris. Gasoline averaging $4 a gallon in 5 states. The Miami Herald. 2011
  • Lee, Mai. Libyan Political Unrest Causes Increases In Domestic Oil Prices. eWireInformer. 2011
  • Zakaria, Fareed. How Democracy Can Work in the Middle East. Time Magazine. 2011