HOAs For Democracy

So, I was listening to an interesting piece on Talk of the Nation on the way in to work in the car.  The participants bemoaned the lack of democratic experience in Egypt.  It is a barrier to establishing and running a peaceful constitutional republic in that and any country.  It reminded me that, among other things, HOAs are a great training ground for democratic practices as well as a chance to practice corporate governance.  Most of us never get to sit on a corporate board or run for public office, but we can learn how to do so through neighborhood HOA experiences.

It seems to me that empowering local Egyptians as presidents, vice-presidents and secretaries of neighborhood associations might provide some training there as well.  I also wonder if local governance couldn’t address a few more difficult problems, like sectarianism.  If an Egyptian HOA were working outside of the 1st Amendment-type restraints you see here in the US, could, for instance, different sects find the freedom to practice their versions of Islam or Coptic Christianity by institutionalizing their religious norms in land-based covenants?  Could recognizing and enshrining extremely local rule in a limited and defined sphere help create a solid base of peaceful government for the country?

I realize that there are some serious fundamental differences in Egypt.  For instance, the whole idea of building new subdivisions seems alien to a country as ancient as that one.  At least here in the US, property turnover, and new building is a necessary part of imposing covenants on later owners.  There also may be much less private property ownership in Egypt.  I have no idea.  However, I imagine there is slightly less diversity on a street-by-street basis in Egyptian neighborhoods.  Perhaps land covenants could be established voluntarily at first?

Just something to think about on the drive home.

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