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Posted at 11:23 AM ET, 02/11/2011

Egypt: 'The people united...'

By Jonathan Capehart
  Since Jan. 31, I have been riveted by the protests. People demanding that their voices be heard. That they have rights and that those rights be respected. Their collective chant of "the people united will never be defeated" has rung in my ears since they took to the street. Fifteenth Street in Washington, that is.

It has been the eeriest coincidence to watch  the events in Egypt unfold on television while workers at the Madison Hotel protest the lodging's new Danish owner, who the union says "have refused to accept the terms of the existing contract."

How often have I heard the chant of "the people united will never be defeated" during a labor protest? And how many times have I later learned that those same workers didn't get nearly everything they'd demanded? But the news out of Cairo -- that President Hosni Mubarak, dictator of Egypt since 1981, has stepped down -- has reinvigorated what I have come to think of as a hopeful, but tired, mantra.
Mubarak's departure gives Egyptians a chance to secure some of the freedoms we in the West hold dear, such as freedom of the press and the ability to live one's life without fear or oppression. Don't get your hopes up for an American-style democracy. But pray that the euphoria in Tahrir Square and across the country will lead to brighter, freer days. The people united will never be defeated -- in Egypt.  

By Jonathan Capehart  | February 11, 2011; 11:23 AM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Next: Everything is possible in Egypt


Just curious - how many people need to be gathered at the Mall or outside the White House before the commentators know that it is time for any US president to leave?

Posted by: GeneWells | February 11, 2011 12:37 PM | Report abuse


There's technically a difference between the Egyptian system under Mubarak and the one we use here in the U.S. You see, Mubarak never had the people's consent to govern (usually indicated during lawful, fair elections). His regime was an unaccountable dictatorship. So mass protests are the only practicable avenue for removing him. By contrast, the President of the U.S. is elected for a specific term. So it would be inappropriate and illegal to try to remove a sitting president through mass protests. What you have to do is wait for the next election and then vote for somebody else. This has worked well on many occassions in U.S. history.

Posted by: ag17 | February 11, 2011 12:50 PM | Report abuse

"Don't get your hopes up for an American-style democracy." Don't get your hopes up for ANY democracy. While you may hear what you want coming from the crowd in the square, the transition (to what?) has no leader or direction.

Our prayers are with the people of Egypt.

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | February 11, 2011 12:53 PM | Report abuse

My question is how big does the protest have to be? Is 10,000 people enough?

Posted by: GeneWells | February 11, 2011 3:00 PM | Report abuse

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