The results of the Australian election are in, and the torch has been passed. John Howard, who has led the country for years and been a strong ally of Washington in the War on Terror and Tyranny, has been defeated as Prime Minister, to be succeeded by Kevin Rudd of the Labor Party. The end of the Howard regime is the latest example of a generational changing of the guard in the world's democracies, following the ascension of Sarkozy in France, Brown in Britain, Harper in Canada, and preceding the departure of George W. Bush in the United States.
While it is always sad to see an old familiar face that has been a staunch supporter of expanding the scope of democracy around the world depart, it is a reminder of the primary virtue of the democratic system: nobody lasts forever. Contrast all the changes in democratic states with the stasis of undemocratic regimes in the past five years: Mubarak remains the Egyptian pharoah, Bashar Assad keeps Syria under his thuggish heel, the military junta still stifles Burma, and Pervez Musharraf continues his military dictatorship in Pakistan (though events may force that to an end in the very near future). Our system inherently rejects such permanence in its heads of government/heads of state because we prefer the system over the individual. So happy trails, Mr. Howard, and we look forward to working with Mr. Rudd in the future on a wide range of issues, from Afghanistan to climate change to international trade and beyond.