The people, unaccustomed to democracy or civic participation, are doing the only thing they can -- taking to the streets. They have no tradition of a free press, an independent judiciary or federalism to check and diffuse the power of the state. There are no town meetings, so they howl and march and shoot. Yet even if the desperate protesters now thronging the streets are successful in removing Morsi, such a victory is bound to be Pyrrhic. The ejection, after just one year in office, of the first elected president will not improve Egypt's reputation for stability and will perhaps even further depress tourism and foreign investment.
Turkey and Brazil, too, are reminders of how easy it is, in most nations, for the people's rights to be trampled and for the state to censor information.
Is the Third World too remote? Consider then, in our gratitude tour, the nations of Western Europe. Portugal, deeply in debt and coping with unemployment of 18 percent, was paralyzed by a general strike last week. Trash piled up, buses and trains stopped running, and even journalists at the state news agency stopped reporting. Friends just back from Italy report that the discontent, which had until now been evident only in the provinces, has reached the capital. Italy's economy has been contracting for seven straight quarters.
Or consider this headline from the Atlantic magazine: "Spain is Beyond Doomed." Spanish unemployment is now 27.2 percent. How could such a thing happen? Bad government. Spain, like other socialist countries in Western Europe, has overregulated business to such a degree that it has made it impossible to fire workers. This has had the altogether foreseeable consequence of making Spanish employers highly reluctant to hire. France has a similar problem, along with a huge national debt -- the result of spending money it was not collecting.
Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Yet we may not be going down the same rat hole. We have the layers of protection our founders designed to thwart the foolishness and cupidity of our leaders, and we have one thing more -- the example of flailing Europe to remind us this July 4 to stay faithful to principles of our founding.
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