Thomas Sowell

Voting is not an end in itself. Had there been universal access to the ballot in Europe centuries ago, in an age of mass illiteracy, it is very unlikely that this would have led to freedom, and far more likely that the continent would have collapsed into confusion and anarchy-- and been ripe to be enslaved by conquerors with more realistic governments.

Restrictions on who can vote have been based on assessments of who can best choose the nation's leaders. Those assessments have varied from country to country, and from one era to another, and no doubt some restrictions make more sense than others. But the fundamental point here is that elections have far more serious purposes than participation.

Most Western nations had freedom long before they had democracy. Women have been voting in the United States less than a century. But, even before women could vote in England or America, they had freedoms that women in many Middle Eastern countries can only dream about today.

"Arab Spring" democracy has certainly not increased women's freedom, nor was there ever any reason to expect that it would.

Why then was Barack Obama so hyped over his "achievement" in having helped put new rulers into power in the Middle East? First of all, this is a man with a monumental ego, to whom every avenue to self-aggrandizement is welcomed, whether it is ObamaCare or realigning the Middle East.

Either or both may end in utter disaster for others, but that is hardly a deterrent to Obama. What some see as a failure of his Middle East policy is a success in carrying out his vision of a historic realignment. The lives that are lost and the increased dangers of international turmoil are to him just "bumps in the road" on the path to his place in history.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate