South Carolina & Gingrich, Egypt & the Muslim Brotherhood

The election results for Egypt’s lower house have been announced, and the Muslim religious parties appear to have gained over 70% of the seats. The Muslim Brotherhood is claiming its Freedom and Justice Party took 47% of the 498 seats in the lower house of parliament.

The hard line fundamentalist Nur Party won 29% of the seats contested on a party basis.

To have 51%, the Muslim Brotherhood party needs a coalition with another party. Its leaders have at least said that they prefer to make that alliance with a secular party like the Wafd rather than with the hard line Salafis.

The other big political news is that Newt Gingrich won the Republican primary in South Carolina. I have noticed a big difference in the coverage of these two events in the US press. American journalists noted that 60-65% of Republican voters in South Carolina are evangelicals. But they did not then add reaction to this statistic. They did not then immediately quote pro-choice women or secularists as saying that they were afraid South Carolina’s church-goers have a dispropotionate influence on US politics (South Carolina’s population is only 4 million.). In contrast, US journalists who reported an MB win immediately added that women and secularists were worried about it.

Then, you don’t see much in the US press as to why Egyptians voted as they did.

Gingrich’s win is attributed to good debating skills. To Romney’s gaffes and inability to escape the image of a spoiled rich kid. To the state’s high unemployment rate. To evangelical discomfort with Romney’s Mormonism.

No similar reasons are given for the Muslim Brotherhood’s win in Egypt. Were their opponents good or bad debaters? Weren’t a lot of the candidates they defeated from the old rich elite?

Class resentments are seen as fuelling the defeat of Romney, but are seldom mentioned as a motive for voters in Egypt. But isn’t it likely that many secularists and persons with ties to the Mubarak regime who ran for office lost because they are thought to be rich and to have stolen people blind under Mubarak.

The result of this difference in approach is that it is implicitly deemed illegitimate for Egyptians to be religious or vote for a religious party. But it is legitimate for South Carolinians to be religious, to vote on a religious basis, to seek to impose their religious laws on all Americans.

But what if Egyptians voted for the religious parties because they saw them as uncorrupt and despite their religious platforms, not because of them? Polling shows a big increase in 2011 in the proportion of Egyptians who say they are Egyptians first and Muslims second– from 8% earlier in the decade to 50% today. Likewise almost no Egyptians think that the revolution against Mubarak was made to establish a religious state.

It is therefore probable that religious motivations actually played a larger role in the primary in South Carolina than in the election in Egypt! Likewise, an MB leader like Essam El-Erian is the voice of reason compared to Gingrich and is no worse in his own way than Gingrich’s sugar daddy, Sheldon Adelson.

42 Responses

  1. The uniquely valuable force of your discussion today is its emphasis on ‘attribution’. The reality is that we have little or no idea why voters did what they did in either country. A set of stock explanations is pulled off the shelf, with great confidence, every time, making journalists seem like sober-faced socio-political analysts.

    One explanation virtually never considered is that voters are simply going with the perceived flow — doing what others are doing, just because others are perceived as doing it. In the S.C. case, there’s some evidence for this: the NYT all but headlines the fact: “Many Voters Moved to Gingrich With Days, or Moments, Left.”

    The sense of flow, these days, is created not by personal contact but via media coverage. Gingrich surges! — in media citations, and therefore in the polls, which are dutifully fed-back into yet-more-excited assertions of surging support, which yield yet more go-with-flow supporters, etc.

    Because there is nothing (or very little) in the way of solid support for any candidate, and because the campaign is structured as a sequence of local events with local topics dominant, the feedback bubble pops rather quickly. It seems to me that this gives a pretty good model of the wild fluctuations of the Republican primary season. The voters approach with some sort of generic orientation, and artifactual surges are created by the electoral process itself.

    It’s worth noting that the illusion of substance is maintained by the standard polling techniques: these are essentially forced-choice quizzes. The choices are drawn from the motifs of the standard narrative. Not included: ‘everybody else seems to be going for him — or so I hear’.

  2. True. Double standards is nothing new in US politics.Nor in Western politics in general.One rule for them and another rule for the rest of the world.
    Without any political bias it should be understood that the Muslim Brotherhood of today’s Egypt is different. It is more progressive ,honest. caring and well organised. Those who are dismayed at the victory of this party are those who are corrupt,love to be the puppets of the West and even act as a fifth column in Egyptian politics. Israel’s mischievous propaganda against Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood is hugely responsible for this paranoia being created in Western press.

  3. The pro-AIPAC media is worried about what is good for Israel, and assumes Islamic parties ruling Islamic countries will be very bad for Israel. But this is democracy in action, e.g., Hamas in Gaza. Most Arabs view Zionism with disdain, and it will be interesting to see how democratic Muslim nations will deal with Israeli aggression against their Arab subjects.

  4. This “double standard” argument doesn’t hold up once you remember that the South Carolina election was a party primary, while the Egyptian elections were national elections.

    It’s not considered notable that South Carolinian Republicans voted for a religious candidate because we already knew they would. It would be similarly unremarkable if the Muslim Brotherhood held primary elections and they were won by religious candidates.

  5. One week ago Romney had a ten point lead in South Carolina. Within a week Mitt dropped in per centages giving Romney a resounding defeat.

    During the past week I spoke with many pastors and ministers in South Carolina explaining there were other serious issues involving Romney that need to be considered before casting a vote. The issues are far beyond abortion and other wedge topics. People may want fault the south for many things, but the rank and file southern does love their country and the ‘influences’ Romney would bring into the Oval office many would rather have stay in a foreign nation and not in Washington D.C.

    Social Conservatives also have formed a group and make robo calls into South Carolina warning of Romney. Evangelicals have had long concerns regarding the Mormon faith. The concerns are often justified.

    Just as a thought, on the radio yesterday I hear George W. Bush was an Evangelical – if this is so, it didn’t help Romney with the overall Evangelical community. Romney did have well entrenched religious leaders in South Carolina behind him, but again with the rank and file did not go along and their backing did not help Romney.

    James Carville came the closest in stating the disaster the GOP has with Mitt on their hands. Carville specifically mentions Karl Rove and Bennett in his post.

    “Let me break it to you gently — you’ve got a first-class disaster on your hands. I know you boys thought this thing would work out and you would be able to whip the Republicans in line to fall in behind Mitt (I assume you are all males but if there is a female in the establishment, I apologize.) Not going too good, is it fellows?”

    ….. “And how about my friends over at American Bridge (the Democrat-leaning political action committee)? Clearly Mitt is merely in the beginning of this tax-return, financial-disclosure, Cayman Island (and God only knows what else) fiasco.”

    link to

    “God only knows what else” — God knows and so do I.

    • “the rank and file southern does love their country”

      “Their” country. Exactly. Not “ours.” Not “this.” And think of all the people, their fellow citizens, that Stars&Bars rank and file are convinced are not only not part of their country, but actively hate it and hope for its destruction. I mean, other than by Armageddon/Rapture, which is OK.

      “and the ‘influences’ Romney would bring into the Oval office many would rather have stay in a foreign nation and not in Washington D.C.”

      Dare one ask what that might mean? Maybe that there’s a sinister link between the sinister LDS structure (I tend to agree on that one) and “sinister Islamists?” Or “sinister AIPAC?” Or what?

      Given all that, is there a snowball’s chance in hell that the City on the Hill won’t implode into a comfortable Old South feudalism, or some other dystopian-for-the-most-of-us form?

      • “and the ‘influences’ Romney would bring into the Oval office many would rather have stay in a foreign nation and not in Washington D.C.”

        You can ask, but I will wait to answer. :-)

        I chucked at the rest of your post.

  6. Prof Cole stated:
    But what if Egyptians voted for the religious parties because they saw them as uncorrupt and despite their religious platforms, not because of them? Polling shows a big increase in 2011 in the proportion of Egyptians who say they are Egyptians first and Muslims second– from 8% earlier in the decade to 50% today. Likewise almost no Egyptians think that the revolution against Mubarak was made to establish a religious state.

    I have commented on this before, but I will repeat what I said…..there seems to be a belief among the Western, progressive-Liberal-Left that, “really”, “deep down”, everyone in the world wants a government like that of a secular, European social democracy. If there is an uprising of the masses that overthrow an existing corrupt, dictatorial regime, it is inevitable that they will want the secular, European-style social democracy that I mentioned.
    But what if that is not true? What if the people of Egypt REALLY want a more religiously-oriented state in which the divine law of Islam is actually implemented in society?
    A “PEW” poll done in 2010 showed that a clear majority of Egyptians want increased adherence to Islamic law in public life, including reintroduction of Islamic punishments, death penalty for apostasy, etc. At the time, I recall people dismissed the poll, but now, with the results of a democratic election that had a majority of Egyptians vote, we see they indeed voted the way they answered the poll.

    link to

    Note that in Egypt 80% support the Islamic punishments that Westerners view as “harsh”.
    Many (most?) people of the Middle East do not view separation of religion and state as being a positive thing as the West does. They view that concept as an foreign, alien belief brought in by the colonial powers in the 19th and 20th century. They view things like respect for elders, family values and religious belief in a very different way than Westerners…as being part of their very identity, not as optional values to be decided on by each individual. They view it as the state’s responsibility to encourage these things, not to be neutral.
    I read last Sunday’s New York Times article about Mohammed Beltagy, the “friendly face” of the Muslim Brotherhood to the Left. He stated “to be a good Muslim is to be for ‘social justice'”. However, other MB thinkers have stated that only a RIGHTEOUS SOCIETY (i.e. one which adheres to divine law in public life) can be a JUST SOCIETY.
    According to this view (and I am not saying this is my view), an atheistic government CAN NOT create justice because each member of the gov’t will not be responsible to the divine law, only to his own whims and the tendency would for him to line his own pocket first, as indeed is which what happened in Egypt under the secular military regime that came to power in 1952, even if they started out with the best of intentions.
    The NYTIMES article ponted out that many in the MB leadership are unhappy with Beltagy and he may be on his way out. It is possible that they agree that it is not enough for the MB to promise merely to carry out secular policies more efficiently or more honestly, but that there first has to be a reevaluation of society’s goals and its relationship to the divine law, because Islam, like many religions teaches that man’s fate on earth is directly correlated to his adherence to the divine law, and ignoring it can have the most serious consequences in the here and now.
    Again, I know that these ideas are alien to modern Westerners, but I think it is a mistake to dismiss them by saying they don’t “really” want the MB’s and Salafist ideologies, they are merely voting for them as a protest, or for ulterior reasons. I think it is time we take what Middle Easterns say seriously and not dismiss them as being unenlightened or uninformed or merely emotional.
    BTW-there is no contradiction between identifying first as an Egyptian and only second as a Muslim and still supporting MB’s and the Salafist program. Many devout American Christians would say the same about their identity as Americans, without detracting from their religious devotion. After all, in many wars, people from one religion they are devout in find themselves trying to kill people from the same religion who are in an enemy army.

    • Yes, I agree with you but even well intentioned scholars like Prof. Cole will not admit 1) Division of religion state is not the ideal and Muslims can protect human rights through shari’ah (or Islamic law) and 2) that people vote for MB or specifically Hamas knowing very well that they propagate an Islamic agenda. The fact that they are identified with less corruption, etc. is icing on the cake.

      • Religion and state was separated in early Islam. You think the later Abbasid Caliphs *ruled*? Or that any kind of caliph ever again did after their dynasty ended? (Spare me Abdulhamid II).

        • That is why, if I understand it correctly, the Salafists want to restore the “pure” Islamic regime that supposedly existed during the time of the “Four Rightly Guided Caliphs”. They will explain that the decline in the power and influence of the Islamic world occurred PRECISELY because of the “artificial” (as they see it) separation of religion and state. No doubt there will be conflicts among the Islamists themselves over these issues.

    • There is a similar conflict between the Western liberals and the people of Uganda, a predominantly Christian nation. The US and UK are threatening to withhold aid unless Uganda makes progress on gay rights. A homosexual act is punishable by up to 14 years in prison. Ugandan politicians accuse the Western leaders of having an ex-colonial mentality and treating them like children. They feel that if progressive Westerners had more respect for what the good Christians of Uganda want, they would let them do as they see fit. I am not ashamed to say that I have respect for those persons who are imprisoned, killed, or maimed by the faithful. I also respect people who help the victims of the religious.

      • Difference is, Uganda’s Christians may have been heavily influenced by American Pentecostal extremists from the New Apostolic Reformation movement. The meme for executing gays may not be African at all.

  7. My friend the Fundamentalist Christian is convinced, on his reading of Revelation and words from some pastor or other, that Newt Gingrich is the Anti-Christ. Does that mean he’s NOT going to vote for that creature if he gets the chance, or oppose his candidacy? Hardly.

    Seems his belief structure, that he is so busily, along with a pretty small minority of fellow-travelers, trying to impose on all the rest of us, is all happy that the Slimy Amphibian, whose cousin the Salamander can slither through fire unharmed, may very well be the next Most Powerful Individual On Earth.

    Newt in the Oval Office, the most cynical and Machiavellian despoilers of language and comity, will be one giant step closer to the Armageddon the “Christian” so earnestly yearns for, when all that bad stuff starts to happen at a much higher rate, and he can stand outside all day long with the assurance from his reading of his version of the Bible (there being several hundred versions of the Absolute Received Word of the Living God over which True Christians conduct violent but covert sectarian warfare) that the Living God (who is not a Loving God) will reach down and Rapture him up to someplace far, far better just before the crap really hits the fan.

    On a smaller scale, Wall Streeters appear to be cashing out and moving out (of the US) in response to the downsizing that’s hitting their own “industry,” even though there’s about zero fear of prosecution or retribution for all the crap they pulled. No need even for repentance; more than enough money to buy all the indulgences, the never-go-to-jail-free cards, that are the hallmark of kleptocracy here, there and in Egypt too.

    And we are supposed to worry about the Muslim Brotherhood exactly why, again?

  8. In the discussion of the SC vote, it is important to note that turnout was up by over 30%, while it was flat in IA and NH. That means that there is more to it than a shift of votes from Romney to Gingrich. Indeed, there was strong evangelical opposition to Gingrich on the basis that his election would make an adulteress First Lady (cleverly avoiding Newt’s participation in the proceedings).

    So, if it were just an evangelical phenomenon, one might have expected a shift to Santorum or even Paul. The fact that there was a rise in turnout suggests that an energizing of people who ordinarily do not vote.

    The logical connection to make is with Gingrich’s putdown of Juan Williams, which seemed to be the moment that everyone cheered.

    In the Egyptian elections, my suspicion that the reason the Muslim Brotherhood did so well is that there was a tacit deal cut with the military. They may well be perceived as less corrupt than the ruling party–how could they not be? But the one thing the Brotherhood is famous for, after having been so badly brutalized in the past, is its caution and restraint. It would not be surprising if the dictatorship had infiltrated and partially neutralized the Brotherhood.

  9. “The result of this difference in approach is that it is implicitly deemed illegitimate for Egyptians to be religious or vote for a religious party. But it is legitimate for South Carolinians to be religious, to vote on a religious basis, to seek to impose their religious laws on all Americans.”

    You have created both a straw-man and a false equivalency in your comparison of reporting on the election results in South Carolina and Egypt. The media have not “deemed [it] illegitimate for Egyptians to be religious or vote for a religious party.” That there is concern should the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists form a coalition is not just found among Western media; that concern also very much exists among many Egyptians themselves.

    Your attempt to equate fear of a Muslim Brotherhood-Salafist coalition in Egypt with fear of South Carolina religious voters seeking “to impose their religious laws on all Americans” is specious reasoning. In Egypt, there is a real possibility that such a coalition could impose their religious views on all Egyptians. In the United States, the Constitution’s separation of church and state forbids it, a proposition that has been upheld many times by the courts.

    • First of all, evangelicals have quite successfully put state level impediments in the way of legal activities. It is the death of the Constitution by a thousand cuts.

      Second, you are shifting from principles to pragmatic arguments, which is a fallacy

    • Bill says, “In Egypt, there is a real possibility that such a coalition could impose their religious views on all Egyptians. In the United States, the Constitution’s separation of church and state forbids it, a proposition that has been upheld many times by the courts.”

      The US Supreme Court has made it clear that it is not bound by such petty considerations as the law or the Constitution. Elections are a state matter under the Constitution, but the Court intervened in 2000 on specious grounds of equal protection, for example. Citizens United is another example of the complete contempt with which this court regards the law. It is no surprise to me, since one of the members of the Court is well-known as a perjurer, and he’s not the only one, past or present.

      Meanwhile, the Congress is heavily populated by people who claim that the US is a “Christian Nation”, despite the fact that this was formally denied by the US Senate in 1796 and is completely inconsistent with basic American history in which people fled from government-imposed religion. The level of bizarre pseudohistory to which proponents of “Christian Nation” ideology have resorted to justify their fundamentally tyrannical efforts exceeds anything regarding the Twelfth Imam (or anything else out of the Muslim World).

      The protections that Americans enjoy have substance not because of laws or the Constitution, which (in addition to providing a governmental structure) merely states some of the rights inherent to human beings, rights which if not respected lead to conflict. The protections that Americans enjoy exist because most of us are sane, considerate of the feelings of others, hesitant to force anyone to do anything unless the greater national good absolutely compels it.

      This sentiment is not shared by all too many of the people who turned out for the South Carolina primary. It is also not shared by many of the Salafists, who are not satisfied with the fact that Egyptian law is based on Islamic law. They want to force the courts to heel to their branch of Islam.

      The comparison Juan Cole draws therefore is exact. Whether the Muslim Brotherhood does or does not have respect for the rights of minorities will be determined by its behavior in office.

      • Charles,

        The rights that Americans enjoy are precisely a result of the Constitution and the law. You may not like the “Citizens United” decision, but when you state that it is an “example of the complete contempt with which this court regards the law,” which law are you referring to? Specifically, toward which law did the court show contempt? Or are you really just saying that you disagreed with the decision? I responded only to your comment on the “Citizens United” case because the rest of your rant is just that, a rant.

    • Bill,

      There is an enormous campaign underway on the Right to claim that separation of church and state was never intended by the Founding Fathers and is thus completely illegitimate. David Barton, a fake right-wing revisionist historian featured on Fox News, is the public leader of the campaign. Members of the Texas state school textbook commission are also adherents to this view. Any Supreme Court justices appointed by a President in the future will be expected by the entire GOP religious activist faction to impose this revisionist history on Constitutional cases.

      Here are some examples:

      link to

      link to

      link to

      link to

      link to

      link to

      The last of these articles talks about the attempt by the governor of S. Carolina to claim that the Lord’s Prayer is one of the bases for American law.

      If GOP governors, congressmen, and presidential candidates all endorse Barton’s lies, then separation of church and state is not a settled matter.

      • SUPer390,

        In any nation you get the wing-nuts, whether of the Right or the Left. That certain groups are working to impose their version of “history” or “religion” or any number of other political or economic “isms” is nothing new. Look at the “Occupy” movement in many U.S. cities. Many of them (probably a majority) state that they want to dismantle capitalism (what they plan to replace it with is usually muddled and unclear), rather than reform it. They are just as nutty as the religious crowd in their own way (unless, that is, you agree with them, in which case you will think their argument makes perfect sense).

        To date, the courts have done a pretty good job of protecting Americans from religious zealots, and I expect they will continue to do so. No, the sky is not falling!


        • Glad the the Old Guard is happy to tell us what the Occupy phenomenon is all about. Complete with the comfortably persuasive, unsupported assertion that “many of them (probably a majority)” are all about “dismantling capitalism.”

          Got a cite, from something other than Wiki or Red States or Cato, to support that notion, since that’s not what I get from folks who largely seem to want a little economic fairness imposed on what many (probably even most) understand is a basic and sensible (when not torqued by the Gordon Gekko crowd) fundamental way of “doing business?”

          And as a lapsed attorney, I also have to ask what kind of support there might be for the assertion that the increasingly “reactionary” courts, increasingly packed by a long string of “conservative” legislatures and executives, slicing edges off the bright-line, four-corners, plain-meaning parts of the Constitution that have to do with the First and Fourth and Fifth Amendments, have done such a great job of protecting the rest of us from “religious zealots?”

          The sky may not be falling for some of us, but gee, what are all those heavy objects crashing to the ground here, there and everywhere?

        • America has been moved extremely far to the right since 1980, and packing the courts was part of the strategy for doing this. Did you bother to read my links? Every important official in the GOP, by your definition, is a wingnut. If they win big in 2012, they will get a Supreme Court further to the right than the one that officially made America a plutocracy with the Citizens United decision.

          Are you going to claim that this country and its laws have never gone backward on a major social issue? Why is my freedom from religion any more guaranteed than a black man’s right to vote in 1876 Mississippie?

        • From Kevin Phillips’ book “American Theocracy”:

          (National surveys 2004-5)

          Should a political leader rely on religion when making policy decisions?

          Conservatives – Yes 63% No 32%
          Republicans – Yes 62% No 35%

          Is the Bible literally accurate?

          Evangelical Protestants – Yes 83%
          National sample – Yes 55%

          Will the world end in an Armageddon battle between Jesus and the Antichrist?

          Evangelical Protestants: Yes 71%

          They don’t learn, they don’t evolve, they don’t share power, they just fight for every inch of territory forever or until they destroy all their enemies, district by district, state by state, judgeship by judgeship. And recall that their ancestors once stood with Supreme Court Justice Taney when he said that “a Negro has no rights that a white man is bound to respect.” What madness will their next Supreme Court enact?

  10. If religion is so important to SC’s evangelicals, why would prefer a repeated adulterer (Gingrich) to a family man (Romney)?

    • Same reason they worshipped divorced Reagan over Southern Baptist Carter, or drunken maniac Bush over Southern Baptist Gore. You’re not really one of them unless you are willing to march them towards a monopoly of power, forever. The real religion is the restoration of America’s old caste system as a solution for all their problems at our expense. Carter, Gore and Romney aren’t authoritarian enough to do it.

  11. I have spent a good amount of time in South Carolina working for Dems. There is clearly a racist, sexist, classist element that mean Ging completely played to. The types like the woman who stood up and said “thank you Mr. Speaker for putting Juan Williams in his place”. The racist who howled and applauded after Juan asked about Newt “belittling the poor” CNN’s King either purposely fumbled after Newt immediately flipped the script (King had to be expecting this) and blamed the media for his immoral and hypocritical (pointing at Clinton while he was having an affair). Mean Ging blamed his work, the media, his second wife. King either wanted to give him the bump or can not think while he is sitting on his ass. Would have been so easy to respond..rationally ‘so Speaker Gingrich you seem to be blaming the media for your immoral behavior”. King choked of wanted to give him a bump. Gingrich and that evangelical vote that he drew from like to hide rascist, sexist, classist attituded behind their alleged religious beliefs. Those votes had nothing to do with the economy. Christian hypocrisy is alive and well in South Carolina. They like to keep the poor poor in south Carolina. Few unions (longshoreman) huge disparity in income, no health care, most white kids in private schools. Have talked with lots of African American women in Charleston and surrounding area who make pathetic wages cleaning wealthy white folks homes. Some of these women have been cleaning for these families for decades for below minimum wages, no health care etc. Go check out who gets the wait jobs in Charleston…white folk…then go look in the kitchens (blacks and now hispanics also) find out how many low income folks have been hired at Boeing, if they have health care, what are their wages. Go look at the tourist advertisements for those along the shore communities..white folk on golf courses on land that had been large African American communities. Racism, Classism and sexism is alive and well in that state. The bombastic bully Gingrich played to that crowd. The passed over a Romney who actually seems to try to practice his religious beliefs.

    And now they move to Florida and not much changes except that they add the right wing radical Jewish vote (which Gingrich is being supported by) and the right wing Cuban vote.

  12. The Muslim Brotherhood won a national election, while the radical-right Republicans won a party primary in South Carolina. I don’t think there’s much to be learned from that comparison. Yes, US media give radical right Christians, a vocal minority with a disproportionate influence on advertisers, a pass, but this is not news.

    I would say, broadly, that we are looking at the victory of an Egyptian version of “centrism.” This is not a positive development, and a huge failure of the Egyptian political system. Apparently the Tahrir Square protestors, are going to have to found their own party.

  13. I’m completely unsurprised by the Brotherhood’s strong showing in the Egyptian elections. Shows what they’ve known in American cities since the mid 1800s and what President Obama showed in 2008 – you can have the best message in the world but you ain’t got nothin’ if you don’t have a well-developed organization on the ground (the sacred “ground game.”) The Brotherhood was uniquely positioned in that respect; even if God were running, the Divine Being still have to get his or her voters to the polls and ensure that potential supporters (adherents? :) ) actually voted. ;p

    I do concede some surprise about the success of the Nur party. Did Nur and MB candidates regularly compete in the same district? Did they experience successes where MB and secular parties split votes? Egypt strikes me as a very odd place for a “hard-line fundamentalist” party to take root in an election like that. 15-20% wouldn’t surprise me, but 29%, while hardly the beginnings of a majority, is a pretty big deal. Without knowing more, though, I couldn’t begin to understand whether they reached 29% through actually having being the first choice of 29% of all voters or simply quirks in the specific’s of the election’s process. I have never personally been to Cairo but many friends have; they all describe Cairenes as a fairly secular bunch compared to some of their neighbors, and at 20m of the nation’s 80m, that implies extraordinarily strong support for Nur in the Nile River Valleys or perhaps the less-well-traveled districts of Cairo. Those votes came from somewhere

    A MB-Wafd coalition strikes me as the kind of Grand Coalition that inspires confidence in an infant democracy, although I have been accurately accused of excessive optimism in the past :).

    • If there ends up being an MB-Wafd coalition, what are the Nur-Salafists going to think about it? Can’t they claim that there was an overwhelming majority for increased role for Islam in the public sphere (70%) and that the MB-Wafd coalition is an opportunistic betrayal of the clear voice of the people? 29% is a lot of people and if they end up being embittered, there could be serious consequences. Maybe MB people themselves would feel the same way. Stay tuned.

  14. It is possible that the very strong showing of the Salafis could push the Muslim Brotherhood rightward, in the same way that the American far-right has pushed the whole mainstream political spectrum rightward. They may not want to work with the Salafis, but they may be worried that if they don’t act Muslim enough, it will hurt them. Another possibility is that the Salafis ally with secular liberals in order to keep the MB from controlling everything. And the parties that are victorious this year could lose their appeal in a few years.

    • But the MSNBC crew really slammed Romney while almost promoting Gingrich before South Carolina. They kept repeating that Santorum had won in Iowa…Bashir too. Instead of focusing on the voted missing from 8 precincts in Iowa. Why the host of these shows would not simply say that it was undetermined in Iowa was telling about MSNBC’s agenda. Heard lawrence O’Donnell, Al Sharpton, Bashir, Ed all repeat Santorum had won in Iowa. Heard Rachel dig into the missing precincts more than anyone of ther colleagues

      • I’m confident that ultimately, the owners of MSNBC want Romney to win. But the short-term greed of a TV news network dictates the manufacturing of a horse race. Think what their ratings would be like for the next six months if Romney had locked up the race in South Carolina.

        Of course, I’ve just accused the media of lying not just for their corporate masters, but literally to manipulate people’s behavior on a night-to-night basis. So this is not good news for America. Remember what the media was doing before, during and after the 2008 crash – trying to keep the public under control.

  15. Does that mean that if I’m terribly concerned that evangelical Chrisians have taken over the Republican Party then I can also be at least a little concerned that religious conservatives won some 70% of the general vote in Egypt?

      • I agree that yes, that’s all we can ask for. The nub of the issue is that I don’t think we should confuse “caution” with “hysteria,” as so often (almost alwways) happens on the right. To echo your most recent post, I too am hoping for the best.

    • Maybe be a little concerned, if you have some depth of knowledge about the nature of the people leading the charge (RedHeads as well as what many assume about “Islamists,” based on the selling points shilled out by our own “conservatives”), and what has any likelihood of coming to pass on the world stage where the survival of the species is maybe at stake, and how narrowly drawn “national interests” (obscuring a pretty clear thrust for impossible hegemony) “inform” the flow of preference and perception about people we hate and fear maybe just because we are wired to need an “enemy,” and whether the “Islamists” pose anything of the same order of danger to decency and survival as the Armageddonists and would-be perpetual Kleptocrats in our own polity, who feed on racism and fear.

      And whether there, as here, the people you are “concerned about” have been using the tools of politics to trick the many into legitimizing the scams of people like Gingrich and the Kochs by “voting” for them, or whether (among other possibilities) the voting people in Egypt maybe see some hope that there will be aspirational changes in the direction of people being able to live their lives free of fear of State Security and with half a chance of making a sustainable, survivable living in something other than wage slavery.

      And no, I don’t pretend to any such knowledge, just a dilettante’s observations on what seem to me to be common elements of human behavior and my own fear that grim, cynical, hypocritical, violent people will control the future my grandchildren will have to inhabit. I just hate being manipulated, and seeing others being manipulated, by folks like that.

  16. The racism.classism and sexism that exist in South Carolina is not subtle. I have pounded the pavement and red dirt in South Carolina during several Dem campaigns. Most recently in 2008. That woman who stood up at one of the Gingrich events and said”thank you Speaker Gingrich for putting Juan Williams in his place” Summarized the feelings of lots of white rich and poor in South Carolina,

    Lots of evangelicals and others hiding racist, sexist attitudes behind alleged religious beliefs in that state. Gingrich played that card and it worked

    Mean Ging played four aces in South Carolina
    1. Racism/Food stamps “thank you Mr. Speaker for putting Juan Williams in his place” Mixed in with poor white working class who are more than likely receiving food stamps to make ends meet but buy the white rich Republican “you can be one of us” hogwash

    2. “elite media” when King called him out on his hypocritical behavior but then King totally choked. Wondering if this was on purpose. He had to know Gingrich would flip the script. Gingrich’s pattern. Blame his work, the media etc etc

    3. More Classism…we don’t want unions in South Carolina no way no how

    4. Sexism…my behavior is not my fault

    It worked
    In Florida he will add the Sheldon Adelson radical right wing Jewish vote as well as the right wing Cuban vote (I have lived in Florida..not that different from South Carolina)

  17. There is no clear front-runner for the GOP nomination.

    Gingrich was on top of the polls in mid-to-late December and was considered by many to be washed up prior to his South Carolina landslide.

    Just shows me voters have not gravitated toward any candidate as a nominee in the Republican primaries.

  18. One big difference is that in South Carolina, there is no chance that some form of religious regime will come into effect, while in Egypt there is quite a big chance that a religious regime will occur. I am very sad and worried about the liberal/secularist Muslims and non-Muslims of Egypt. Women’s rights are likey to suffer in the not-so-distant future.

    I hope time will prove my guess wrong.

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