“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew.”
A wise man once said opportunities in life only come once. Two years ago more than one million Lebanese went into the streets of Beirut to demonstrate against the Syrian military presence in Lebanon and against their government, following the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Two years ago the land of milk and honey saw growing momentum for a Cedar Revolution that unified the nation to the cause of true democracy and freedom from foreign intervention. In 1963 Martin Luther King had a dream, two years ago, I was living mine.
That was two years ago.
As the last Syrian soldier departed Lebanon and the media hype began to wind down, the realities on the ground began to unfold. The truth is that the new democracy we have been offered is not in touch with the aspirations of all Lebanese and oddly resembles the one we had before. The truth is that we are governed by tribal leaders that have used and abused our Constitution and judiciary system in the name of special interests and political sustainability and are supported by a press that has independently chosen to pledge allegiance to one party over the other. The truth is that Lebanon continues to be a collection of mini-states. The truth is we are as corrupt today as we were before 2005. The inconvenient truth, to quote Al Gore, is that Lebanon’s Cedar revolution is hollow at best.
The failed promises of the March 14 alliance and the poor performance of the Saniora government on various issues including national security, political, economic, and social reforms, and environmental stewardship has led to the emergence of new political players that have upset Lebanon’ traditional political deal making and resulted in the defeat of some of the country’s usual suspects. And had the new electoral law been implemented in 2005, the country would have witnessed a new wave of political faces and ideals. Alas, the March 14 alliance and their representatives in parliament chose to preserve the same electoral law they earlier claimed was fabricated and imposed on the Lebanese by the Syrian regime to infringe upon our liberties.
The Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) is perhaps the best example of a new untraditional player in the Lebanese political scene judging from the fierce political battles that occurred in many regions of Mount Lebanon and the North where this party was running. Led by the not so charismatic Michel Aoun, a former prime minister that launched two unsuccessful wars with disastrous impact on the country in general and the Christian community in particular, that same community he claims to widely represent today, the FPM has managed to make a strong come back to the country’s political scene as did many other parties but with this difference, the FPM is offering a political agenda that addresses the concerns of the citizens of Lebanon. The FPM has managed to bring to the table new representation and new faces that talk to the need for new and better representation in government, more accountability and zero tolerance for corruption, more jobs, a better healthcare system, and an independent judiciary system. The FPM has given their constituency an array of hope, the hope that regular people truly have a say in the direction of their country and how it should be ruled. The FPM was successful in bringing to light the need to stand to and abide by all the laws, rules, and regulations of this republic as well as respect its constitution. Through its actions, the FPM helped to bring to light a government that refuses to be held accountable for its poor performance and in many cases unlawful and unethical conduct since holding power in 2005; a government that claims to represent all Lebanese but continues to disregard the concerns of many.
A decade and a half in Paris appears to have helped Mr. Aoun, with the support of a professional team, to work toward creating a party with a mission, founded on specific goals and objectives. It appears that against all odds, the message of the FPM resonated well in the ears of the many that voted for him in the past election and would probably vote for him again in the next round.
I do not share the same moral or religious values of Mr. Aoun and I will admit that I am concerned at times with his Napoleon-like attitude, but I would be foolish not to recognize the FPM as a credible and serious player in Lebanese politics.
When the good people of Lebanon demanded change, they didn’t mean more of the same; the FPM was there to listen but most importantly deliver.