"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

6.30.2006

and it's Congolese Independence Day



Could not have said it better myself. When people in the DRC asked me why America was so successful and Congo, um, isn't, I'd often talk about the fact that we've had longer to develop our democracy than they have. After all, for the first hundred and fifty years of the USA, most of our population couldn't vote. Congo's only been independent for four decades, and they've only been free of Mobutu for ten years.

The other thing I frequently talked about is the principle of rule of law. What makes America different, I'd say, is that everyone -- from a homeless man on the street to a senator or the president -- is subject to the same laws. If you murder someone, no matter who you are, you are supposed to be tried, convicted, and punished, even if you're a rich man.


I always felt a little bad about putting things that way, because of course I know that the rich are far less likely to be convicted of crimes than the poor. We don't have a perfect republic, and we never will. But reminding our president that everyone is subject to the rule of law is a step in the right direction. How sad that it took a court to remind us. How wonderful that we have courts that are subject to that same rule of law. We don't have the problems that plague so many places in the world, because our society really is built on a belief that liberty and justice for some is not enough.

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