Evidence abounds that Egypt's political elite, both within and outside of its ruling Muslim Brotherhood, aren't engaged with the issue that brought them to power.
Egypt's political elite continue to fail their people. They are failing to empathize, they are failing to speak to the public in a way that makes them feel they're being listened to, and they're failing to craft approaches to turn around a dangerously listing economy.
Egypt's current economic and social problems have no easy fixes, and would confound an all-star team of political leaders. But compounding those problems is the fact that President Mohamed Morsi, his Muslim Brotherhood, and the security forces – who are seen by the public as dangers to be avoided rather than keepers of the peace – are out of touch with the struggles of the nation's poor.
Their attitude veers between amusement, disgust, and contempt, and all of them were on display when, while answering questions in parliament earlier this month,Prime Minister Hisham Qandil was asked about Hamada Saber, a middle-aged laborer who was caught on film being stripped naked, beaten, and dragged through the street by police in front of the presidential palace on Feb. 1. Mr. Qandil managed, in very few words, to unintentionally outline how estranged Egypt's leadership is from the working classes when he launched into a set of unfocused comments that seemed to place responsibility for poverty squarely on the backs of the poor while sidestepping the issue of police mistreatment of Mr. Saber.
The poor, who may not be well-educated but aren't stupid, are well-aware of this contempt among the political elite – one reason so many average Egyptians say that what they wanted out of the uprising against former President Hosni Mubarak was more "dignity." So far they're not getting it. (Dan Murphy/The Christian Science Monitor)