Rotate Away from Democracy

February 2, 2011 marked the birth date a new Middle East. Hosni Mubarak finally decided to resign from his position as “President” of Egypt after his term ended, turning the country over to the military. Mubarak’s totalitarian dictatorship is over, as is the rule of some tyrants in Egypt’s many neighboring countries. In less than a month, the regimes of Samir al-Rifai, Prime Minster of Jordan, Saad al-Hariri, Prime Minister of Lebanon, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, President of Tunisia, Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen and Mubarak were all toppled. These revolutions were supported by social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook and by violent protests. While this marks a new day for much of the Middle East, there is still a strong sense of foreboding in the air. After all, when trying to bring a new democracy out of the ashes of a dictatorship, the chances that free elections, effective parliaments, and happy citizens will soon follow are slim to none. Democratic republics are great in theory, in a situation where the public votes for elected officials who supposedly represent their views. But what happens if the wrong person gets elected? Depending on those elected, some governments can no longer be considered democracies. In struggling countries that lack a democatic tradition, it is relatively easy for a dictator to seize power. This often happens, and is a reasonable fear for the future of the Middle East. Democracy is not the end-all-be-all of governments. We only believe it is because the United States went from being ruled by Mother England to complete, democratic autonomy without any Napoleons or Mubaraks to deal with. With this in mind, Andover c3n be considered a microcosm of the world. We have a variety of people, a variety of classes and we elect student officials. However, similar to some situations in the real world, our leaders don’t get much done. Every year, the student body listens to the promises of our politicians-to-be, and we are disappointed the next year when they don’t fulfill most of their promises. I understand the obvious limitations placed by the administration, our endowment, trustees and others, but there has to be another way to run things around here. We’re a progressive school, and we always have been. In my opinion, we are clinging onto a form of government that is not really an ideal solution in the modern world. We, at such a progressive school, should not be afraid to try something new. I propose a rotating oligarchy, similar to the system uses by the Ancient Greeks. In the fourth century B.C., Athenians used a democratic form of oligarchy, and volunteers drew lots to determine their position for the term. This prevented the oligarchy from being elitist or biased. We can use a similar method here at Andover. Every two weeks, a small group would be randomly selected from volunteers to hold council, and there would be a random leader of the council for the meeting. This would prevent it from being elitist, by grade, popularity or race, as many of the presidential elections inevitably are. They would discuss their personal wants and needs, and thus more opinions would be voiced and more changes would be made. Half of the council would leave after one session, but the other half would stay to meet with the new group of volunteers at the next session. This would ensure that progress is made because the session would continuously build upon the ideas of the previous groups. A rotating oligarchy is not that outlandish of an idea, it is simply different from the form of government most people here are used to. We should distribute the “wealth,” and abolish the figurehead known as School President. If we have learned anything from the recent revolutions in the Middle East, it should be that blind democracy is not always the answer. Terrence Arjoon is a three-year Upper from Richmond Hill, NY.