Saturday, June 20, 2009


The biggest joke about this Iranian situation is that some people actually care who won the “election.” Don’t those people get it? There WAS no election.

Some people could read that last sentence and agree, saying that “Of course there was no election. It was stolen by fraud.” And yes, that’s right. But the main fraud had nothing to do with the way they counted – or didn’t count -- the votes. The main fraud had to do with the lead-up to the election. This was a fraud long before the first sucker walked into the voting booth.

You often hear the term “Jeffersonian Democracy” to refer to a certain set of political goals enunciated by our third President. These include, for example, the right of all of a nation’s citizens to choose its leaders by majority vote, the separation of church and state, and the right of an accused person to a fair trial. But at the very top of the list, two rights stand alone. Without them, you can’t have anything remotely resembling a Jeffersonian Democracy. In fact, without them, you can’t have any kind of democracy. What you can have is a formula by which the ruling class can remain in power, even if it decides to allow the people to vote.

What are these rights? Allow me to set them out in a fourteen word sentence, written by Mr. Jefferson himself: “Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.” Jefferson spoke about the importance of reading because, if you have a free press, an educated (literate) electorate can make an educated (intelligent) decision as to which candidate to support. The key to the whole equation, then, is the free press. It is precisely what the Iranian people were denied in the lead up to the “election.” Instead, they were bombarded with week after week of propaganda touting everyone’s favorite Holocaust denier, President Ahmadinejad.

It speaks volumes for the leaders of the Iranian Government that, after they all but stole the election before it started, they felt the need to steal it once again after the voting. When you think about it, though, the decision to call the winner before the ballots were counted seemed in keeping with the regime’s pre-election conduct. The people’s vote was merely a formality, merely a link in a perfectly planned chain, the goal of which was to coronate the incumbent. The Communist Party in the USSR held these votes for years. And frankly, I’ve seen similar votes in synagogues, where the Board of Trustees puts up a slate and correctly assumes that nobody will ever run against that slate. It’s called one-party rule. And that’s exactly what you have in any country that lacks a free press.

Today is Saturday, June 20th. Some consider it D-Day in Iran -- the day when the hypocrites who sponsored this phony “election” turn into monsters, and Tehran turns into Tiananmen Square. I’m not a soothsayer, so I’ll save the predictions as to where this situation ends. What I will say is that if I lived in Tehran, I would like to think I’d be out there protesting – non-violently, but relentlessly. With every fiber of my body, I support those Iranians who, without picking up a gun or a bomb, are mad as hell and won’t take it any more. But I just wish they would keep their eyes on the ball. The issue isn’t voting. It’s democracy. And a democracy doesn’t begin and end with the ballot box, it begins and ends with the freedom of the press.

But don’t just take my word for it. Consider the words of the man who is associated more with democracy than any other modern statesman. These quotations are all from Jefferson, and I’ve saved the best for last.

“Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it.”

“Information is the currency of democracy.”

“The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them."

“I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.”

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