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The Importance of Liberalism: Baher's Graduate School Statement of Purpose

I landed in Cairo at a revolutionary time in 2012. It was a hot day in Tahrir Square, the birthplace of the Egyptian Revolution.

Cars honked, trash filled the square, cops patrolled the area in cars and on foot. The atmosphere was tense.

The country was undergoing a political transition, which included the first democratic election after the protests that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak.

I bought a notepad and pen from a street vendor and started writing.

I wrote observations and asked random people about the Arab Spring. Then my mom grabbed me and said, “Stop! This could be dangerous.” I stashed my notebook, but I wasn’t done writing about the Arab Spring.

The fruitful political discourses taking place in Egypt at that time shaped my intellectual bildungsroman. I was constantly monitoring the stunning achievements in Egypt’s fruitful democratic experiment.

The people at bustling Cairo Coffee shops were optimistic, and they had every right to be.

For the first time in its lengthy history, the country was undergoing its first democratic election, and a new Egyptian constitution was being crafted with the participation, deliberation, and representation of the general citizenry.

It is in these moments that I knew that political discourse should matter more than oxygen.

Many of the reasons why I hope to begin graduate school in Political Science, aiming towards Ph.D, can be traced to my first major human, civic, and professional endeavors in Egypt over various summers, where I dedicated my time to independently researching and documenting the rise and downfall of democratic political institutions while also volunteering in civil society.

Over the years, I did my own independent comparative analysis that compared Egypt’s failed democratic experience with Tunisia’s fruitful one — and I found that one of the reason’s Tunisia’s democratic experience went smoother was because the Islamists in Tunisia were more likely to cooperate with the opposition.

By 2016, I became completely disillusioned with the political landscape in Egypt.

Meanwhile, I also was witnessing the decay of the liberal international order before my very eyes. Institutions, reason, truth and political discourse began to deteriorate — and authoritarianism quickly became the new status quo.

My naïve belief in Francis Fukuyama’s End of History thesis, which triumphantly declared the victory of liberal democracy as the final form of human government, had completely vanished into thin air.

I entered my undergrad in Political Science at Loyola University of Chicago as a radical pessimist without ideals, and my egalitarian political vision evaporated.

Luckily, it did not take long for Western Academia to restore my faith in liberal democracy.

Throughout my University career, I become well-versed with what the valuable scholarly literature looks like — as I read and interpreted the major contributions in the social sciences and humanities — from John Rawls Theory of Justice to Karl Marx’s Theory of Alienation.

My burning passion for scholarship made me into a prolific writer — so, I started a blog where I interpreted, analyzed and critiqued major works of scholarship by Ibn Khaldun, Max Weber and Michael Foucault, to name a few.

I also have a deep affinity for a robust and challenging classroom environment. Throughout my undergrad, I have taken a wide variety of intellectually stimulating political science seminars, such as courses dissecting complex phenomena such as: The Arab Spring, African Politics, Western Political Philosophy, Islamic Political Philosophy and Capitalism and its Discontents.

These courses have challenged me to use quantitative forms of analysis — while also analyzing empirical questions as well as normative ones.

Not only this, but these courses provided me with the tools to study the political experiences within more than one nation-state for the purpose of making systemic comparisons.

In these courses, we invoked the two main approaches in comparative politics, the cross-national approach and the area studies approach.

Within my program, my objective is to study what makes liberal democracy flourish by comparing the commonwealth democracy of Canada with the rest of the world.

The most successful liberal democracies are animated by independent and robust political institutions that rest on a delicate balance of three distinct features — effective state, rule of law and political accountability.

I will compare data regarding political accountability mechanisms in each country — invoking panel data sets for the period 2010-2020 about 100 nations on corruption and bureaucratic quality based on experts’ rankings; and corruption data.

My hypothesis will ask a quintessential research question: What are the factors in a country that create the best possible atmosphere for liberal democracy to flourish?

This research will help us nourish liberal democracy across the world to reflect an inclusive and democratic 21st century.

Likewise, this research will identify the evident flaws of liberal democracy and provide a framework that will create the best possible environment for liberal democracy to flourish.

Historically, the university has always been a chief institution that advances political, social and economic progress.

For me, political science is an academic discipline that can solve humanities greatest problems.

I’ve committed myself to striving for an egalitarian society through writing and research at an institution of higher learning.


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