Monday, October 1, 2007

Post-Bush America

One of the lasting effects of the George W. Bush presidency is that U.S. credibility is so damaged around the world that it will be difficult for his successor to shape events ranging from addressing global warming, to economic integration, to middle-east politics, and so on and so on.

Perhaps most worrisome is that democracy itself, as a viable political system for the greater good, is damaged by U.S. behavior under Bush's leadership. Why democracy, one might ask, in view of the messes the U.S. is making in Iraq, global warming, Guantanamo Bay, etc., etc.? As Roger Cohen suggests in today's New York Times, "Liberal democracy has taken a battering. A countermodel now exists: the authoritarian-capitalist, or Leninist-capitalist, systems of China and Russia. They have benefited from Iraq's democracy-as-mayhem."

Democracy is the best system yet devised for protecting the Enlightenment-based values of Reason and Individual Liberty. With the bungling of Bush and the Gang that Couldn't Shoot Straight, the next president will have a tall task in restoring faith around the world in the American version of democracy epitomized in the values of pluralism, rule of law, independent media, market economies, tolerance, and basic human decency.