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IranIf you are like me, you’ve been keeping a close eye on Iran, and the results of the last election. I at least, have remained measurably hopeful. I don’t suppose that is very realistic.

A country that cheats as inelegantly as Tehran has done, probably is not likely to respond with a “my bad” when their deception is uncovered both at home and abroad. I don’t expect they will be announcing a “do over” any time soon.

It is painful to watch as people struggle to just have a fair election, where their voices actually count for something.  I think we take that for granted here in the US. Everyone alive in this country has never known anything different if they were born here.

Of course, we are not free from our own dirty tricks. There are plenty of election shenanigans to go around, mostly in attempts to suppress the votes of opposition voters through “legal” objections to voting rolls. But by and large, we think they are pretty fair. I mean if ever there was one that wasn’t, we can look to 2000, and Gore bowed to the right of the SCOTUS to have the final word. He signaled that that stamp was authoritative and was “fair.”

Because of this overall complacency, we are in danger here, and few realize it, or even believe it. We stood by as the Bushites pushed through “Patriot Acts” designed to take away freedoms such as privacy and speech, making it seem “unpatriotic” to oppose such legislation.

We’ve learned that there are ways around Congresses sole right to declare war, and we have now lost that means of control over our government as well. Plenty of people when polled, are happy to give up rights we claim to hold dear in the name of “national security.”

While we have been busy with life, our elected officials have had their power eroded and controlled by mega conglomerates, beholden to only themselves. They dictate just about everything these days. Obama and his team promise a dismantling of all this, but it’s so far unclear how much they can and are willing to do. Much too much ends up being aimed at re-election rather than the public good.

You can ask, and I invite you to, and plenty of folks will tell you that unfair police practices are okay, because, like national security, crime must be stopped, and “honest” people have nothing to hide, right?

I used to get asked a lot, and still do occasionally, how I “can/could” represent criminals when I “thought they were guilty?” The short answer is that because the law doesn’t assure them a lawyer who believes they are  innocent, but a lawyer to hold the state to its burdens of proof.

The long answer is that we have a country of laws. If lawyers don’t have to represent those they deem guilty, then why have courts or juries at all. Let the cops do justice on the street by personal whim. If you, your child, or loved one were charged with a crime, you’d want the best lawyer in town, not the ignorant sap who “believes” you.

We’ve grown soft in democracy, or federalism as you wish. We actually think we are doing our civic duty by voting. Precious few of us can even bother with that. Far fewer than that go to town councils meetings, and join groups who actively work for issues. I’m not wagging my finger at you, because I fall in the same category. I try, but fail, to convince myself that blogging is my contribution to improve the “public discourse.” Uhuh.

And don’t tell me that this happens to all democracies. We have the lowest voting record of any of them I believe. We are complacent. Well, not all of us. White people are complacent. When we move off that  demographic, there is at least a lot of folks who have been the recipient of our less than “fair” democracy. Like African Americans, Latinos, American Indians, Asians, all the non-whites actually. Yet even here, there is  a lack of co-ordinated voting of any kind, and poor turnout as well.

Can you imagine Iranians not voting because they had something better to do? Or Iraqis? Perhaps it is our less than long history of oppression in a real and obvious way that allows us to sink so rapidly into shrugging our shoulders and assuming nothing bad will happen. I don’t know, but I do know, that Iran is important.

Important, not just because we could use some more rational people to deal with there on big issues that face them and the region. We can look repression dead in the face, and place ourselves there, on those streets, in that fear of what will happen next? Will I get out of this alive? Will I be free to say and do what I wish?

We have lost any sense of how precious our freedom is, until of course, we wish to strut it around as giving us permission to dictate to the world on any issue under the sun. They we parade it and our flag high and strong. I find that I can use a remark of  Jesus’ often and well. America, remove the plank from your eye before you go about instructing the rest of the world how to live. Iran reminds us, we recently retreated from the edge, and we can peek over the edge once again all too easily.

Freedom requires vigilance. We best not forget that, or we too may one day face the streets, the batons, the water hoses, and the bullets.

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