Government likes to do the same thing. As I was raised and taught, democratic government is an institution formed and designated to lessen the burden and better facilitate collectively the tasks that individual citizens, and to that extent individual states, alone cannot do on their own. For the most part this has dealt with commerce and foreign relations, but has expanded to include everything from education to emergency services. In theory, it is not meant to intrude in every aspect of the lives of its citizens or to be used as a tool of fear. Fear tactics are reserved for tyrannical dictatorships – not a country founded on individual liberty – who oppress their people beyond the point of any realization that they are living in a state of fear.
There are many citizens who feel that this is the type of government we live under in the United States. Without getting into a political theory debate, this is far from the truth. Even if it does seem somewhat illusionary (or delusionary?), we actively participate in government at election time, even if reluctantly, by calling upon certain citizens drawn from our population to represent our common interests. Only those on the fringes see it as otherwise, either not enough involvement or too much intrusion.
The latest Iranian election, and the subsequent controversy, is a presumptuous contrast. For arguments sake, when George W. Bush “allegedly” stole the 2000 election – which anyone, like myself, who has actually read the U.S. Constitution knows is grossly inaccurate – there was massive outrage from Democrats. What happened? Eventually, the peaceful transition of power from one president to the next. And when the hotly contested 2008 election between John McCain and Barack Obama ended, what happened? Again, the peaceful transition of power from one president to the next. The system worked, for better or worse, as it has worked since 1789 – no mass riots by the opposition, no goon squads to oppress them.
Juxtaposed, Iran has seen nothing but mass protests and a crackdown on anyone opposed to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s allegedly fraudulent re-election. Sadly, it serves to illuminate the pseudo-nature of the world’s “democracies” in otherwise oppressive societies. Ahmadinejad is simply one of many world leaders who could be placed among the Mount Rushmore of dictators-in-disguise – the Castro brothers in Cuba, Bashar Al-Assad in Syria, Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. You know, the beacons of (totalitarian) hope and promise. (For the entire band, you could even include Kim “Wipe Out U.S. Imperialists” Jong-Il of North Korea.)
And the name of their band? Naturally, the “Axis of Evil”. They only play death metal, but they don’t care whether you participate in their act – they will play no matter how much you pump your fist or how loud you scream. However, they might like it if you punch a baby.
©2009 Steve Sagarra