by Stephen Lendman
On June 14, Iranians began voting. They’ll choose their 11th president. By law, incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad can’t compete. He’s limited to two terms. He’s been president since August 2005.
Six candidates are running. Two of the original eight withdrew. They did so days earlier. Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel and Mohammad Reza Aref chose not to run. A previous article profiled participating candidates.
If none win a majority, a June 21 runoff follows. On the same day, voters are choosing local city and village officials. Thousands of aspirants registered to participate. In 2012, parliamentary elections were held.
Iran’s an Islamic Republic. Its elections are open, free and fair. They shame America’s sham process. More on that below.
The Guardian Council vets candidates. At issue is protecting Iran’s Islamic character. It’s also to preserve its sovereignty. Preventing imperial interests from gaining control is key.
Washington and US media scoundrels criticize Iranian elections. They do so unfairly. They turn a blind eye to sham US ones. They’re rigged. They lack legitimacy. They’re democratic in name only.
Money power controls things. Duopoly power rules. America’s a one party state. Democrats and Republicans represent two sides of the same coin. Not a dime’s worth of difference separates them.
They’re in lockstep on corporate empowerment, imperial priorities, police state repression, unconstitutional spying, destroying America’s social contract, and other issues mattering most.
Gore Vidal once said American-style democracy reflects “numerous elections (at) great cost without issues and with interchangeable candidates.”
“Any American who is prepared to run for president should automatically by definition be disqualified from ever doing so.”
“By the time a man gets to be presidential material, he’s been bought ten times over.”
“Every four years the naive half who vote are encouraged to believe that if we can elect a really nice man or woman president everything will be all right. But it won’t be.”
“The genius of our ruling class is that it has kept a majority of the people from ever questioning the inequity of a system where most people drudge along, paying heavy taxes for which they get nothing in return.”
“We should stop going around babbling about how we’re the greatest democracy on earth.” America’s “rotting away at a funereal pace,” he added.
It’s electoral process is bad enough to make some despots blush. It’s fraudulent. It’s more fanciful than real. One dollar = one vote explains.
Everything’s pre-scripted. Secrecy and back room deals decide things. They substitute for a free, fair and open process. Party bosses select candidates. Big money owns them. Key outcomes are predetermined.
Wealth and power alone are served. Candidates represent government of, by and for privileged elites alone. Ordinary Americans get the best democracy money can buy. Independents are shut out. Media scoundrels mock them. They largely ignore them.
Major issues go unaddressed. Managed news misinformation substitutes. Horse race journalism, trivia, and spectacle leave voters uninformed in the dark.
Candidates on the stump deliver pre-packaged, pre-scripted slogans, sound bites, and other rehearsed mumbo jumbo. Focus-tested commercials proliferate. Candidate virtues and opponents’ shortcomings are stressed. They’re exaggerated for maximum effect.
So-called debates are worse. Issues are avoided. Canned sound bites substitute. Party bosses control things. The so-called Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) reflects politburo democracy.
Ralph Nader calls it “a deplorable, exclusionary tool of the two-party duopoly, performing an antidemocratic screening function in our system, and forcing excluded candidates to the sidelines in media attention and public appraisal.”
Independent candidates are marginalized, silenced and excluded. Unwanted ones showing up to observe risk arrest. Police states operate this way. America’s by far the worst.
Beneficial social change, electoral democracy, and independent voices are entirely shut out. America’s process was constitutionally flawed by design. Over time, things worsened. Today, they’re deplorable.
Duopoly power serves wealth, privilege and power. Popular interests go begging. Voter disenfranchisement’s rife.
Numerous techniques and harmful laws exclude millions. Things are so bad, half the electorate abstains. Why not when elections are privatized. Easily manipulated corporate run touchscreen electronic machines vote, not citizens.
Losers are declared winners. American-style democracy’s sheer fantasy. Media scoundrels suppress what demands revealing.
Most democracies have proportionally representative (PR) governance. America’s winner-take-all system lacks credibility. It’s borderline lawless.
PR represents all voters and all political parties or groups proportionally to their electoral strength. If candidates from one party win 30% of the votes, they get 30% of legislative seats. Not in America. By law, 50.1% takes all.
The Electoral College is systemically flawed. It’s fundamentally undemocratic. Winning the popular vote doesn’t matter. Bush v. Gore stands out.
Gore won both ways. Bush lost. America’s High Court decided otherwise. For the first time in US history, it ruled 5 – 4 for Bush. Losing didn’t matter. American-style democracy works that way.
Sixteen times under Electoral College rules, winning presidential candidates won a minority of votes. Winner take all rules exclude runoffs. Popular favorites lose more times than people realize.
Voters have no say. Money power alone decides. John Jay was America’s first Supreme Court chief justice. He explained saying America should be run by and for “the people who own” it.
It’s always been that way. It’s worst than ever now. Campaigns go on interminably. Billions of dollars spent corrupt things. As explained above, one dollar = one vote.
In 2012, the Center for Responsive Politics (CPR) said nearly $6.3 billion were spent for presidential and congressional candidates. Each electoral cycle, amounts increase. The usual sources provide it.
Major corporations buy candidates like toothpaste. They choose ones they prefer. So do “dark money” groups. Cash flows from organizations claiming tax-exempt status. They do so under section 501 c 4 of the federal tax code.
Recent year amounts rose exponentially. In 2006, it was $5.2 million. In 2012, it was $310.8 million. At this rate, the sky’s the limit. At issue is secrecy. Contributors aren’t revealed.
Lack of transparency compounds electoral illegitimacy. It gets worse. Evidence suggests IRS rules governing tax-exempt status and donor disclosure are violated. It’s done with impunity.
Money power makes its own rules. Outrageous shenanigans make long ago scandals look like bad hair days by comparison. It’s the American way.
Iranians choose winners and losers. Monied interests have no say. On June 12, the Tehran Times headlined “Election fervor approaches climax,” saying:
“The eyes of the world are on Iran as it prepares to hold its 11th presidential election on Friday, with Iranians hoping a competent president who will offer a beacon of hope for the future of the country will be elected.”
On May 24, campaigning began. On June 13, it ended. Candidates explained their domestic and foreign priorities.
They did so separately and during three live televised debates. They acknowledged the effects of Western-imposed sanctions. They’re lawless.
Washington calls them “the most stringent and broad (ones) in the history of the world.”
They lack legitimacy. They’re imposed anyway. America bears full responsibility. It violates international law and its own.
It does so with impunity. It inflicts inordinate pain and suffering on ordinary Iranians. Winning hearts and minds isn’t Washington’s long suit. Viciousness best describes it.
On June 6, House Resolution 252 called for “free and fair elections in Iran.” It was introduced and referred to committee. It’s arrogant, unconscionable and borderline lawless.
US electoral reform is badly needed. Don’t expect entrenched power interests to propose it.
Ahead of June 14, Obama imposed more sanctions. He did so by Executive Order. He targeted Iran’s auto industry and rial.
Sanctions apply to foreign financial institutions engaged in buying or selling unspecified significant rial amounts.
They also target rial holders outside Iran. At issue is weakening the currency further. Days earlier, Iran’s petrochemical industry was targeted.
Candidates promised to improve relations with other countries. They defended Iran’s peaceful nuclear program. According to Tehran’s Interior Ministry, nearly 50.5 million Iranians are eligible to vote. Expats in 96 countries may do so, including America.
Washington routinely meddles in other country elections. It does so lawlessly. It unsuccessfully tried influencing Iran’s 2009 presidential outcome. It spent hundreds of millions of dollars.
Post-election, it choreographed street demonstrations. At issue was creating unrest. Rogue states operate this way. America’s by far the worst.
Ahmadinejad won by a landslide. He got 62.63% of the vote. He did so legitimately. He bested his nearest rival nearly two to one. It didn’t surprise. Independent pre-election polls predicted he’d win overwhelmingly.
What’s planned this time remains to be seen. America’s no impartial bystander. It spies intensively on Iran. It meddles lawlessly in other ways. It spends inordinate amounts doing so.
US law prohibits doing what Washington routinely does abroad. The US Federal Election Commission’s Foreign (FEC) Nationals Brochure states:
“The (1971) Federal Election Campaign Act prohibits any foreign national from contributing, donating or spending funds in connection with any federal, state, or local election in the United States, either directly or indirectly.”
“It is unlawful to help foreign nationals violate that ban or to solicit, receive or accept contributions or donations from them. Persons who knowingly and willfully engage in these activities may be subject to fines and/or imprisonment.”
Foreign nationals include other governments, political parties, corporations, associations, partnerships, individuals with foreign citizenship, and immigrants without green cards.
US policy is do what we say, not what we do. Law-breaking is standard Washington practice. It remains to be seen what follows Iranian elections.
A runoff appears likely. Final results won’t be known until later in June. Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman already called Iran’s process “unfair, unjust and unrepresentative.” She lied saying so.
US media scoundrels are no better. The New York Times said “Prospect of Iran’s election stirs little hope this time around.”
The Washington Post falsely claimed Iranian authorities plan “chok(ing) off the Internet and foreign-based satellite TV channels such as the BBC and Voice of America.”
The Chicago Tribune was no better, saying “Iran(‘s) election offers choice, but little change.” In other words, Iranians right to remain independent runs counter to longstanding US regime change plans.
The Wall Street Journal said “US hardens tone toward Iran as election nears American diplomats are publicly questioning the credibility of the June 14 election.”
Post-election, expect stepped-up anti-Iranian post-mortems. Congratulating the winner won’t be forthcoming. Nor will acknowledging his legitimacy. It’s standard US practice.
On April 19, Nicolas Maduro was inaugurated Venezuela’s president. He took office legitimately. He won fair and square. Venezuela’s process is considered the world’s best.
Post-electoral auditing found zero errors. Virtually every country acknowledges Maduro’s legitimacy. He still awaits Washington’s recognition. Rogue states operate this way.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.