We Americans often reflexively support revolutions in the hopes that they will lead to governments that protect the natural rights of their people. After seeing Mubarak cede power to the Egyptian military, I’m not convinced that Egypt’s revolution is headed in the right direction. I hope it is. I hope the Egyptians trust their military and that the military trusts the Egyptian people, and that six months from now, the army keeps its promise and restores the authority of a constitutional government. And I hope that government is one devoted to freedom. But we’ll see.
I think our support for these revolutions is reflexive because our revolution turned out so well. But that’s an exception. Historically, revolutions that establish the kind of government I like are rare. I think ours was so successful because, as so many authors and historians have pointed out before, our revolution really wasn’t that revolutionary. Without delving into too much historical detail, the colonies had been governing themselves with minimal interference from Britain for well over a century before the American Revolution. We were used to self-government, and we resented and resisted efforts by the King and Parliament to exercise greater control over us, through taxation or otherwise. Our revolution was more about maintaining the self-government we’d grown accustomed to, not about bringing democracy to America for the first time ever.
I hope these revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere in the Middle East and Northern Africa lead to the kind of freedoms we’re accustomed to here in the U.S. I hope these revolutions are as bloodless as possible, that the people are patient and persistent, and that the ones who favor greater liberty–whether they’re the rebels or the government–defeat the ones who favor greater repression.
A place around the corner is now selling sausage-and-pepper sandwiches on Italian bread. Everything is proceeding exactly according to plan.