To the Polls

Get the India ink ready, Ahmed. The voters are coming.

In just a matter of hours, the people of Iraq are going to vote for the ratification of their constitution. This is an important day in the democratic process, but the outcome of the vote is not vital. From the transitional constitution, a translation of the law now governing the Iraqi ratification election.

Article 61 [Deadlines]
(A) The National Assembly shall write the draft of the permanent
constitution by no later than 15 August 2005.
(B) The draft permanent constitution shall be presented to the Iraqi people
for approval in a general referendum to be held no later than 15 October 2005.
In the period leading up to the referendum, the draft constitution shall be
published and widely distributed to encourage a public debate about it among the
(C) The general referendum will be successful and the draft constitution
ratified if a majority of the voters in Iraq approve and if two-thirds of the
voters in three or more governorates do not reject it.

If the constitution is approved, there will be some coverage in the MSM about it. There will be a few mentions of it on the 24 hour news channels and a guest or two saying what a wonderful development this is, but the coverage will soon be overshadowed by Bush approval ratings poll numbers and the fact that we have had soldiers killed there. For the Iraqis it will mean:

(D) If the permanent constitution is approved in the referendum, elections for a permanent government shall be held no later than 15 December 2005 and the new government shall assume office no later than 31 December 2005.

If the measure is defeated, it will result in wall to wall coverage
of the story, with all manner of commentators filling up the television screens
trying to explain how this is a major defeat for Bush and the democratic process
in Iraq.

Don't let them fool you. Though a no vote is quite possible, in fact, almost guaranteed with the very high standard of approval for the document, it is not the end of the world, the end of the process or the first indication of a total breakdown of the Iraqi government. Yes, it will be a great disappointment to many people, especially those who worked so hard trying to cobble this thing together, but there are too many Iraqis, Shia, Kurd and yes, even Sunni, who believe in the process too much to let a setback be the end of it. But it has already been provided for. Going back to the interim constitution;

(E) If the referendum rejects the draft permanent constitution, the National Assembly shall be dissolved. Elections for a new National Assembly shall be
held no later than 15 December 2005. The new National Assembly and new Iraqi
Transitional Government shall then assume office no later than 31 December
2005, and shall continue to operate under this Law, except that the final
deadlines for preparing a new draft may be changed to make it possible to
draft a permanent constitution within a period not to exceed one year. The
new National Assembly shall be entrusted with writing another draft
permanent constitution.

What should be the reaction to a no vote? First of all, it needs to be stressed that the activities of the terrorists have no bearing on the vote. Anybody who so much as implies otherwise should be held in contempt. The very fact that the Iraqi people show up at the polls to cast their ballot is a not only a rejection of the terrorists, but an act of defiance against all they stand for. To say that the terrorists who did not have the ability to frighten people away from the polling places scared them into voting against the constitution is ridiculous.

Is it a defeat for Bush? I don't think so. Bush had nothing to do with the writing of this constitution, (except for setting the conditions that allowed for it to be written in the first place), and whether it passes or is rejected is no commentary on him or his administration. I am sure that he will be disappointed by a rejection, but it does not reflect upon him.

Is it a defeat for the democratic process? What kind of alternate reality does one have to occupy to think that deferring to the results of a vote is a defeat for democracy? Remove the tinfoil from your head and have a burger. All those vegetables are obviously not providing your grey matter with enough nutrition. it is not the defeat of democracy, but the implementation of it. The Iraqis will get a chance to go back to the polls and try it again.

I am excited about the Iraqis heading to the voting booths, and am very hopeful that they will have an approved Constitution at the end of the day. It will probably be some time before the results are known and released. Until then, I can only hope for the best, and pray that God protect the American soldiers that are providing the necessary security for those going to the polls and freely expressing their desires.

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