Iran is as Democratic as the United States. You Shouldn't Be Surprised.

With the diabolical sneer of the Ayatollah Khomeini etched upon our minds, it's hard for us to imagine that Iran is democratic in the least. With George W. Bush having branded Iran as a charter member of the Axis of Evil, it's probably unpopular to think about such a possibility. But Iran is relatively democratic. When you compare recent presidential elections, you might be surprised to discover that, in its own way, Iran is as democratic as the United States.

That's really not saying much about the United States, though.

Prior to the 2005 Iranian presidential vote even occurring, George W. Bush had this to say about Iran.
Today, Iran is ruled by men who suppress liberty at home and spread terror across the world. Power is in the hands of an unelected few who have retained power through an electoral process that ignores the basic requirements of democracy.
If you substitute "United States" for "Iran" and "shock and awe" for "terrorism", you'd have a pretty ironically accurate description of the United States.

Quick--how many viable candidates did the United

It is unusual in an Iranian election for the voter turnout to fall below 70 percent. It's contrastingly unusual for voter turnout in the United States to exceed 50 percent. Maybe Iran is more democratic than we are...?

States have in the most recent presidential election--candidates that it seemed really belonged in the race? Six, seven? Maybe ten? Iran had eight in 2005. It was a surprise to the odds makers that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won the election.

One of the worst things that could have happened for U.S.-Iranian relations and for political moderation in Iran is for George W. Bush to have added Iran as a charter member of the Axis of Evil. Woops! I guess that happened, didn't it?!

Over 1,000 Iranians aspired to become a presidential candidate in 2005. This was whittled down to 8 by the Guardian Council. We have the equivalent of a Guardian Council in the United States, but most of us don't realize it. It's called the Establishment, and its tool is the Mainstream Media. As the

We have a Guardian Council, and everyone knows them; you have one, too, but nobody knows them.

--Mehdi Rafsanjani

Guardian Council is the gatekeeper of political candidacy in Iran, so the Establishment Media performs nearly the same function in the U.S. Whereas the Guardian Council simply doesn't let you run for election, the Establishment Media either ignores you or destroys you.

It is unusual in an Iranian election for the voter turnout to fall below 70 percent. It's contrastingly unusual for voter turnout in the United States to exceed 50 percent. Voter apathy is a fairly good barometer of the health of a democracy. Many Americans have signed off from the political process because they feel it is largely a sham. Maybe Iran is more democratic than we are...?

Mehdi Rafsanjani, son of former Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani, pointed out the ironic but (to most Americans) less than obvious reality.
We have a Guardian Council, and everyone knows them; you have one, too, but nobody knows them.
Actually, there are a few people who know about our "Guardian Council", and some of the even admit it. David Rockefeller is not bashful in this regard. He said:
For more than a century, ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American political and economic institutions. Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as "internationalists" and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure - one world, if you will. If that's the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.
A lot of people I talk to see vaguely that we have a huge political problem in the United States, and that it involves both the Republican and Democrat parties. But most of these same people tell me that they are too busy or too afraid to delve into it and try to make a difference.

You know, though, if we plan to see any improvement in the United States economy and social environment, more of us need to not be scared and not be too busy. We need to discover the United States Guardian Council and route it out. Then and only then will we be able to say that we're more democratic than Iran.




Comments

  1. I agree that it is amazing how apathetic the U.S. public is to our democratic process. And it isn't just about voting; how often does the average citizen closely scrutinize the actions of his Senators, Representatives, Governors, Councilmen, etc. How many bother to attend city council meetings?

    But regarding your last point, isn't that the Randian ideal? Minimal government restraint frees the Atlases of the world--the supermen, the brilliant Carnegies, Fords, Morgans, and Rockefellers--to rise to positions of influence commensurate with their gifts and use those gifts for the benefit of the rest of society, taking care of those things we must not have the aptitude to take care of ourselves (else why would we not be in their position)?

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  2. No, the Randian ideal does not advocate the supermen to rise to positions of influence over government. It simply advocates unfettering them to be able to provide necessary benefits to society according to the profit motive. I'm not sure how you could have read "Atlas Shrugged" (have you?) and come to that conclusion.

    Rand would never advocate the means by which Rockefeller rose to power, nor the power that he has.

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  3. I apologize for the way I phrased the comment. It was not very accurate.

    My error aside:

    Rand did not portray the "Atlases" of the world like the Rockefellers in Atlas Shrugged. Of course, that work is fiction. Fiction authors can chose to portray their characters in all sorts of fanciful ways. They don't need to correspond in any way to reality.

    I find it interesting that in many of her works, such as her essays in Capitalism: the unknown Ideal, she very much does suggest that the real-life captains of industry and finance were persecuted, put-upon martyrs whom the hoi-polloi were holding back from being elevated to the greatness to which they deserve.

    I believe that one would be naive to think that, without any restrictions or restraints, that a small percentage of society would not accumulate a particularly high level of wealth and power, then using that wealth and power to their own ends to maintain their power and interests.

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  4. Thanks for the clarification. That's something that I can agree with. If a small percentage of society accumulates a large percentage of its wealth, it is a sign of society's ill health. Contrary to what some conservatives claim, I think this is becoming a serious problem in the United States.

    I do think, however, that the rich/poor divide is occurring with the assistance of government. The only way to stop the upper crust from gaining control is for Americans to remain moral, thoughtful, and politically active. We're not, as a rule, doing a very good job.

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  5. I very much appreciate that you are among the relatively few conservatives/libertarians who recognize the danger of concentration of wealth. And I agree that government in at least some ways (we might differ in how many) plays a role in that divide. But I presume, given your comments, that people can and will accumulate wealth in a "free market." Do you think it is possible that great wealth inevitably leads to inordinant influence in governance--including influence in protecting their position? Do you think it might therefore be wise to incorporate some restraints to the influence of wealth?

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  6. Absolutely. Particularly, Bill Moyers has me convinced from his book "Moyers on Democracy" that we should have Fair Elections, where wealth wouldn't always determine who our politicians are.

    Another persuasive instrument for me was the documentary video "The Corporation" that talked about how beneficial it would be to rescind the corporation's ability to be legally considered a "person".

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  7. When I read When Corporations Rule the World by David Korten (a brilliant book, one in which I think you would find much with which you would agree) several years back, I was absolutely shocked that corporations qualify as persons! That is truly one of the biggest travesties in our law.

    (Yes, The Corporation was a very good documentary).

    I wasn't aware of the Fair Elections org to which you linked. Thanks for pointing it out. I'll have to give it a look--it sounds like a good one to support.

    And I certainly agree that the U.S. populace is very poor at being politically informed, active, and involved. It boggles my mind how little thought (or how superficial the thought) so many give to their political positions or decisions.

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