Sunday, January 30, 2005

Live from Baghdad

The cable channel HDNet is broadcasting live from the Iraq elections as I write this. No newsmen. No commentators. Just the sights and sounds from the streets. Uncut and uncensored.

What strikes my is how ordinary the scene is. Poll workers registering the voters. Women with children waiting in line. Going to vote behind cardboard boxes. Smiles, conversations, and neighborly greetings.

All juxtaposed with security guards and US infantry men frisking people. An old man describing the increasing violence over the last couple of weeks. Another stating he is not scared, he is proud to help his country take a step in the right direction.

More smiles. More belief. Iraqi flags. Long lines and big crowds.

These are people who believe their actions are making a difference. And they are. Over the next couple of days, it will be interesting how this election will be portrayed.

I expect there will be some who attempt to declare it illegitimate due to low participation rates in parts of the country. To do so would be an absolute insult to the many Iraqi's who risked there lives by coming out to vote. Those who celebrated their next step towards democracy. Those who know their actions are making a difference.

For those in the US who consider waiting in long lines too much of a burden and a form of voter suppression, the Iraqi people are displaying just how valuable the right to vote is. What sacrifices and risks many are willing to take in order to exercise that right - a right many of us take for granted. A right that others of us seek to undermine and discredit. I right that I suspect none of us fully appreciate.

Today is a great day for the Iraqi people. It's also a great opportunity for all Americans to reflect on just how blessed we are.

UPDATE: As predicted, it didn't take long for some to question the legitimacy of the election, despite what appears to be an heroic turnout by the Iraqi people. Even I didn't expect it in a nationally televised interview hours after my initial post.
"It is hard to say that something is legitimate when whole portions of the country can't vote and doesn't vote," Sen. John Kerry (news - web sites), D-Mass., said on NBC's "Meet The Press."
Disgusting is not a harsh enough word.