Americans used to democracy, US-style, have long faced the question of whether or not to vote for the “lesser evil.” Remember 1968? Nixon vs. Humphrey. Until today, on the left, especially among the holier-than-thou, the purest of the pure say a pox on both your houses, which didn’t work out so well in 2000, did it?
Egyptians, now dealing with democracy, Egypt-style, are figuring this out.
In Cairo, in the June 16–17 presidential runoff election, the choice is not very palatable. It’s between a candidate of the cult-like secret society called the Muslim Brotherhood and a candidate who carries baggage from the ancient regime, i.e., Hosni Mubarak et al.
Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood standard bearer, is the likely winner. A lot of secular, nationalist, Nasserist and leftist voters—i.e., the folks who led the 2011 revolution—are going to sit this one out, though the controversially light sentence handed down on Mubarak and his cronies has angered many of them, who may very well vote for Morsi in protest. In any case, their votes aren’t likely to be needed, since the Brothers have an effective GOTV effort and a political machine that is unrivaled. Already the Brothers control parliament (and another big chunk of parliament is under the control of the more radical Salafi faction), and they’re probably going to win the presidency, too. In the old days, when Mubarak warned that it was either him or the Brotherhood, a lot of democrats and Western liberals ridiculed him. Well, it turns out, he was right.
Morsi, meanwhile, said he’ll convene a conference to determine who the real perpetrators of 9/11 were.
His opponent, Ahmed Shafik, is a former general who served as a last-ditch prime minister during the revolution.
Suppose you had to vote in Egypt. There’s a case to be made for sitting it out, continuing to organize, supporting independent media and so on. But the protest votes have all been cast, in the first round, for a Nasserist, for a supposedly liberal Islamist (ex-Muslim Brotherhood), for Amr Moussa, etc. Now it’s time to choose.