The new President wanted this to be his legacy:
Through much of the last century, America's faith in freedom and democracy was a rock in a raging sea. Now it is a seed upon the wind, taking root in many nations.
George W. Bush, First Inaugural Address
But the nation was attacked later that very same year. The new President decided it was America's destiny to impose that democratic hope at the point of a gun.
Now, a new President takes the stage and guess what? He's teaching democracy.
Turns out, the whole world WAS watching.
From the nation of his ancestors:
"This is a big lesson," said Njeri Kabeberi, director of Kenya's Center for Multi-party Politics. "We had our own problems in January, February after we messed up with our own electoral process and messed up with our own tallying and counting process of the elections. So this is a big lesson that you do not have to steal votes, you do not have to discriminate against other communities, because we did discriminate against other communities. So what is most important is for the leadership that is going to provide that particular country what that country needs. And in this case, it is change they can believe in, and for Kenya we better actually start believing in some change in our leadership style."
From the "Axis of Evil":
Mostafa Eqbali, a 54-year-old merchant in downtown Tehran, is exactly the kind of middle-class, middle-of-the-road Iranian whose loyalties and attitudes have generally determined his country’s direction.
The election early this morning of Barack Obama to the U.S. presidency pierced through his preconceptions about the world.
"Let me tell you that now I believe in American democracy," he said excitedly. "Honestly, I did not think that Obama would be president. I thought that the invisible hands of the big trusts and cartels would not allow a black man to be president of the United States."
To the socialist republic that holds our debt:
Wu Xinbo, vice president of the Shanghai Institute of American Studies, was effusive in his assessment of Obama's success, saying it demonstrated the "greatness" of the U.S.
"The U.S. is sending a very encouraging signal to the world and it shows the American people have come a long way since the days of Martin Luther King," he said.
Referring to Obama's victory speech, in which the president-elect spoke of "the power of our democracy", Wu said: "In many regards the U.S. represents more progressive ideas and China should learn from the U.S.
"China should have its own traditions, its own ways, but should not view this [democratic system] as alien to its own cultural values. It should be open-minded."
If you want to spread democracy, you have to live by its principles. Elections are won or lost, not stolen or determined by technicalities. Campaigns should strive to bring people into the process, not exclude them because they don't pass a litmus test or divide them into "real" and "fake" Americans. Politicians should make voting easier and more accessible, not more onerous and inconvenient in the name of preventing a fraud of which no one has evidence. Those who run for office should treat the campaign as a way to teach democracy to a new generation. Those who run parties and mastermind campaigns should make the nuts and bolts of campaigns more accessible and easier to understand.
The new President, back in 2001, narrowly won the election on a technicality after the Supreme Court weighed in to stop counting the full vote in Florida.
And he forgot the first lesson of democracy: if you want to spread democracy abroad, make sure it thrives at home.
Everyone who worked on the Obama campaign learned from seasoned masters: David Axelrod and David Plouffe. In industry, they call it "best practices." And the goal is to take those best practices and create repeatable processes.
We have a repeatable process.
And the whole world is watching.
No guns needed.
It reminds me of a quote by a very famous community organizer:
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
Matthew 7: 15-20