Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Iran, the Mirror of America.

My conclusion of the recent Iranian election is that it shows that the health and progress of Iranian democracy is on a par with USA democracy.

Beyond the foolishness of the fantasy of CIA involvement or the wishful thinking that the Iranian people are in the streets supporting some kind of "Islamic green revolution," the truth is that the Iranian people are demonstrating on their own behalf, not for revolution but for something much more basic to human society, and that is, the people primarily want honesty from their government leaders.

The Iranian Constitution is a document with democratic checks and balances that does allow for somewhat reasonably free elections. The demonstrators are not asking for a revolution or any other kind of fundamental change to the Constitution; they are asking that their Constitution be upheld and enforced. However, to the extent (1) that the Supreme Leader doesn't honestly exercise his role as a check and balance to the system, (2) that the Guardian Council doesn't exercise its role as a check and balance over the election process, and (3) that the Council of Experts doesn't exercise its role as a check and balance on the Supreme Leader, then these three bodies may by their failure to function effectively in the support of Iranian democracy then steer the people exactly in the direction of Constitutional change.

The election was patently fraudulent. The case itemizing the fraud doesn't need to be restated in depth. From the beginning when the results were announced within without any attempt to even pretend to give enough time to count the votes, from the way the counting process was changed to prevent the routine and legal observations, from the stuffing of ballot boxes up to 140% of the registered voters, etc. it is clear that the election result was a sham. By supporting the result with illogical argument and violent repression of the demonstrations, the Supreme Leader has shown that he is no better, and fundamentally no different than, the Shah when it comes to upholding the democratic principles of the Iranian Constitution. There are two bodies, the Guardian Council and the Council of Experts, that could provide checks and balances to the Supreme Leader's bias for the fraud, but they have so fa refused to act.

Now, let's be clear. The current situation is no better or worse than the situation in the USA in the elections of 2000 and 2004 which were both fraudulently stolen (albeit with more finesse) by George Bush. It does us no good to be on a high horse and look down on the people of Iran for having to live with a failure of their democracy. At least the people of Iran were demonstrating in the streets in large numbers. The people of the USA live with the failure of our democracy far more meekly by comparison. Our system of checks and balances failed and no one called for constitutional reform.

We have a system of Congressional legislation, Judicial review, and Presidential executive execution of the laws in which the Congress, the Justice system, and the Presidency are controlled by corporate elites every bit as much as the Iranian system is controlled by Islamic elites. We have a majority of the population that supports universal health care whether by a "public option" or by a Medicare-for-all (single payer) plan, yet neither the Congress nor the President has fought for what the public wants in the health care debate.

The people of the USA want the Clean Air act to be strengthened yet the Congress has just passed a phony clean energy bill that sells out to coal and nuclear energy and reduces the power of the Clean Air act. This is no fluke, it is the systemic failure of USA democracy that is accepted meekly by the majority of the public whose very preferences are ignored.

President Obama received his highest levels of campaign support from Wall Street interests, so is it any wonder that in the first six months of office that Obama has rewarded those same Wall Street interests with payoffs greater than any previous such looting of the US treasury in our history, all the while virtually ignoring the plight of the individual homeowners?

What we in the USA have in solidarity with out fellow humans in Iran is that we want honesty from our system of democracy. What we share in our systems is a fundamental lack of honesty by those people elected and appointed to run the system. I wish that we in the USA had the motivation to march in the streets in the numbers that they did in Iran to protest that lack of honesty. And if we did, I have no doubts that we would see the violence of the USA elites come out against the protesters every bit as much as it has in Iran, just has it has come out against the USA protesters at the Democratic and Republican Party conventions every year.

The bottom line is that we in the USA are in no position to brag that our democracy is any more vibrant or successful than the Iranian democracy, and when we look at the protests in Iran we can share in the dream of an honest upholding of the Constitution both in Iran and here as well.