Voting could be turning point but probably not

There is no question the turnout to vote on a constitution draft in Iraq was a success. As they did in January’s National Assembly Election, Iraqis on Saturday braved potential violence and hostility to cast their ballots. Also, in a promising sign of possible cohesion, Sunni participation was reportedly strong after a weak turnout in January.

It is hopeful that the successful vote is a sign of positive things to come in Iraq.Iraq’s January election offered signs of hope, promise and peace. Purple-thumbed and proud, Iraqis saw for the first time what democracy is all about.

As in January, Iraqis voting on their constitution is encouraging. It is a step in the right direction. This time, it is hopeful that insurgent violence will not delay progress. Since February, 500 American soldiers have died in Iraq, including six killed on Saturday. In Western Iraq, violence still reigns as insurgents continue to wreak havoc.

If passed, which many top officials believe will happen, coalition forces must figure out a way to dry the continual bloodshed. This could be a turning point for Iraq, but if problems are not solved, it will just be one of the few bright spots on a canvas of darkness.

“(The vote) is a critical step forward in Iraq’s march toward democracy,” President Bush said on Sunday.

It is also a critical moment for the American public’s eroding view of the war. The American death toll is approaching 2,000. A growing number of Americans disapprove of Bush’s handling of the war. If the violence quells, Americans will be able to point to Saturday’s vote as a pivotal event, and Bush’s ratings would probably climb.

More likely, though, only violence and death tolls will climb. If we have learned anything from this war, we have learned that it is far, far from over.

Iraqis at the polls is a pleasant sight, but constant news of death and destruction makes it easy to forget pleasing things.

“This is a very positive day for the Iraqis and as well for world peace,” Bush said. “Democracies are peaceful countries.”

Looking at the numbers, Iraqis appear to want a democracy. It is hoped that one day, by Bush’s standards, they will have one.