Monday, January 31, 2005

The election in Iraq: Their courage inspires us all


An Iraqi woman casts her vote

An estimated 8.5 million brave Iraqis went to the polls yesterday, affronting death threats by suicide bombers. Iraqis stood in long lines in the chilly air to vote for their future, knowing that it might be their last day of life.

I'll remember them with respect the next time I go to the polls. I won't complain about the long line and inclement weather. Never again.

We at Lead Our Leaders believe that all peoples on Earth are united by their desire for liberty and prosperity. Determined Iraqis proved this to us yesterday. They want what sometimes I take for granted. Never again.

Shiites, Sunnis, Muslims, Christians, Arabs, Kurds and Turks said by their vote that they no longer wanted a nonparticipatory dictatorship. Instead, they are willing to work together toward a brighter future.

There were 5,300 polling locations. American security efforts swelled the number of citizens willing to walk to the polls. Emerging from Polling Center Number 211 in Irbil, Iraq yesterday, an excited Qanaa Ayub was asked how she voted by a St. Petersburg Times reporter. Her son replied with a smile, "She voted for freedom."

The oppressor insurgents, with no platform, lost the election. The Iraqis, with the dream of liberty and prosperity through national participatory unity, won the election.

There was a time in America’s history when citizens were also excluded from the voting process. Like the Iraqis yesterday, women and blacks defied risk of murder to vote in a free election. Never again.

Community activists worked to secure a safe voting environment for women and blacks during those dark times in America. We’re a can-do nation with a heart. We help each other here, and we help friends abroad. Yea, I have a goodly heritage. Psalm 16:6.

Americans’ acts of personal courage and self-empowerment have been inspiring to the Iraqi people. Let’s continue the effort, by Leading Our Leaders to fix what’s broken with our political process. We can’t afford to pinball from one crisis to another.


Register to vote

Women voting in Iraq

Was your first voting experience memorable? How was it significant to you?

The whole point of women’s suffrage is that the government needs the point of view of all its citizens and the women have a point of view, which is of value to the government. Eleanor Roosevelt, 14 April 1924