State of the Union

I feel like venting tonight…

I can empathise, I can even sympathize with the unions in Jordan as their political powers are being removed…I really can. They’ve gotten used to it. Who wouldn’t? Though times have changed and the roles need to be re-adjusted to serve the country like they should.

Years ago we had so many political parties. Ba’ath, communists, the DAIA, green party, haqq, socialists, the IAF and so forth. The list was so long and the powers increasingly distributed. But they let them operate and of course inevitably they got a little greedy and a little radical so they were outlawed in the 50’s. Mashi. What now? How do we let the people be political? Enter the professional unions: the needle whole in a balloon to let the air leak out just a bit. And now, years later, things have changed. Demographics, politics, society, stability has all changed and Jordan is ready.

Now we have something like 40 political parties in the country with a small population and no resources. It seems all we care about is what is occurring in the short term. The protests, or the laws or the riot police. I feel sometimes we lack the foresight to see beyond the horizon at what is going on here, perhaps even failing to acknowledge key evidence in favor of our own misconceptions that the government and/or king is always wrong and everyone else is right.

What we’ve been ignoring is the government’s initiatives to try and merge the parties or at least encourage them to. The king and the pm have been meeting with both the organizations and political parties since 1999 in preparation for the movement towards greater democratic reform. The country does not have a wide enough political fabric to absorb all of these political parties now that their back in operation. The move is towards getting them to sit down with each other and discover the obvious i.e. the fact that many of them have very similar agendas and that it is in their best interest to merge if they wish to seek a greater political hand in the approaching reform. The message they’ve been receiving from the government is “reform is going to happen with or without you, so act now”.

The plan as I see it is to have these parties in the long run become the effective political mechanism of the country. In the long run, the country will vote for parties and parties will run the government and elect the ministers, they will seek majority seats and minority seats. In the long run these parties will quickly merge in an attempt not to be excluded. More importantly, once the parties gain such power society will inevitably (in the long run) begin to break down its naturally occurring Tribal affiliation. Don’t get me wrong, I love the tribes, I am part of one. Nevertheless, a democratic system cannot function when people are enfrashised yet vote for their family name. Inevitably people will vote based on what benefits them. If their family members in parliament no longer can, then they will seek out a party.

Hence, there is no need for the unions to retain any political powers whatsoever. The government is not say “you can’t talk about politics”, what their saying is you cannot pretend to be a political party anymore. You cannot organize protests and what not. Your attention should now be shifted from a concentration on politics back to your original purpose…to serve the people professionally as part of your organizational structure! That is their purpose and that is their duty. Leave the politics to the parties like it should be.

Why do so many reject this? We spend so many endless hours debating politics in Jordan, simply by pointing out how backwards we are and now that such problems are being rectified we complain just as much.

No one is saying this is going to run smoothly. Democracy is not a well oiled machine. We are attempting to implement a form of democracy tailored to the needs of Jordan based on its regional, social, political, economic, and demographic situation in the middle east. This is a tough job and will take decades. Government trust needs to be established, power will shift.

That being said, the longest journey begins with the first step.

Your Two Piasters: