To be continued
It would be an understatement if we say we are not touched by the whole democratic process. Watching people going to the voting booth, having their say, and see for themselves how their votes actually matter.
You see, we here at the IA compound are not young (average age of 54) and we grew old under dictatorship. We never thought we would be alive to experience this:
Indonesia, directly electing its leader. Twice! Yet although we have only had done it twice, the whole process was so natural like we have done it hundreds of times.
You did it, Indonesia. Oh yes you did.
Sure it is not perfect (even America with its hundreds of years of democracy still has problem in election), but hey: the vote-counts are credible and the election commission although silly at times is still a trusted institution.
To put into perspective of how important this is, consider this: Iranians recently are going to the street in great numbers, taking the risk of beating, arrests, even getting killed, because the lack of these.
Credibility. Oh yes. Indonesia got it.
And one more thing: George Bush once said "If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier" .
Not his best quote, but can help put one more thing into perspective. Yes, let's not forget that in all three tickets in this presidential race, there are three generals in all of them.
We, who grew up under military rule, once thought:
"Gee, if they want, they can just take the power, Thailand style..."
(That would be a nightmare, wouldn't it? Yet it happened in Thailand after they enjoyed a period of democracy ).
So the fact that the generals prefer to go through the democratic channel to gain power -- despite the risk of losing -- is a good thing.
So far so good. So what's next?
SBY promised not only to continue, but to do better, and with such big mandate, we surely hope he will be more aggressive this time around.
Other than that, we still think political parties need a growing up to do. You see, the problem is -- at least in our point of view -- political parties in Indonesia are not created to fight for certain set of principles or idealism. In America there are Democratic and Republican party. In England Labour and Conservative. Regardless who their leaders are, they do have different set of principles between one another.
In our country, political party is a vehicle: When Amien Rais wanted to run for presidency, he created a party. When SBY wanted to run, he created a party. Same with Wiranto. Same with Prabowo. A party is like a car: you get one when you need to go from point A to point B.
That brings us to the question: Other than fighting to get their man into office, what do political parties do? What are they fighting for? What set them apart? We don't know (yet). We don't even know why we have so many parties when despite different flags and t-shirt colors, they all talk the same.
It's shouldn't be this way beause we are not the same and we don't have to have the same idealism and principles in order to be a great country.
Even one question of "should the government stop people from smoking?" can stir an endless debate about principle among us here.
"That's a personal preference. We don't want a nanny state. Government should stay away".
"Oh shut up. Government should protect its people from harm. Cancer included."
"Oh really? What's next? Government go after you for not looking left and right before you cross the street?"
We do have differences and we do have different views and principles on how to make this country great. Political parties need to do some soul searching and find what values and what principles that drive them and set them apart.
That if they don't want to be just a vehicle. Taken for a ride the whole time.
 CNN - Transition of Power: President-Elect Bush Meets With Congressional Leaders on Capitol Hill
 New York Times - Thailand