Thursday, September 20, 2007

Political Paralysis

"We love Americans; we just don't love your government," Iranians everywhere told me over and over and over again. "We have the same problem: bad governments," many added. When they did, I invariably responded: "The American government represents the people: you should hold us responsible for the actions of our government." It was kind of a mini civics lesson.

The fact is that most Americans do not know the extent and effect of American foreign policy. We are mostly concerned with domestic issues. And now, on top of that, most are *not* represented by the current government.

What I found most distressing during my recent stay in The US was the extent to which Americans had become more "Iranian." In Iran I met people frustrated with the system who had given up affecting it. I encountered a lack of will, a kind of political exhaustian in Iran. What I did not expect was to encounter this same phenomena in America. I have never ever ever experienced an America so at odds with its government and at such a loss about what to do about it.

Even though I met a couple of Bush supporters, most of the people I met in America were just paralyzed by mistrust and disgust. People are afraid there will be a war with Iran, they are sick of the war in Iraq, they are tired to the bone from lies.

What's next from this seemingly unstoppable administration?

More Links:

Peggy Noonan

Michael Winship

13 comments:

amir said...

Unfortunately there is no real democarcy in any place(perhaps because people are not equal at all) You can buy people's vote in some way
Only difference between Iran and America's democracy is in the
way the hidden power act:
In Iran the action is too rough
In America it is softer
but the consequence is the same

Tori said...

Amir, See this is where you and I part ways a bit.

Unlike many people, I see democracy as an imperfect process rather than as some utopian dream of people power. I do think that there are differences: which does not mean that I do not see the problems with hidden powers and the purchasing of votes.

The United States does have lots of checks and balances in place and a pretty good constitution. It IS seriously worrying how quickly we seem to have forgotten how these processes work.

Our lazy participation in politics is as much to blame as big money and hidden powers.

Anonymous said...

kltnrAhmadinejan is being refused permission to commemorate the dead at the site of the Twin Towers. One justification for this that I have heard on CNN is that we will give no photo ops to someone who held Americans in captivity (referring to the US Embassy hostages held in Tehran at the height of the Islamic Revolution). Ahmadinejad denies being among the students who took the Embassy staff hostage, and there is no proof that he was. But, the untruth is persistently in circulation and needs refutation. An effective way to do this, in my view, is to reintroduce the American public to history, specifically the history of US intervention in Iranian affairs. The Shah was our proxy and we are responsible for his crimes against his people, including imprisonment, torture and murder. Admittedly, students held many Americans hostage for an extended period of time. Were they in prison? Were they tortured? Were any of them killed? We are responsible for the great number of Iranians the Shah imprisoned, tortured and killed. Our crime against the Iranian people is vastly greater than the crime of the Iranian students against the Embassy staff.
Truly yours,
Ron

Anonymous said...

Ahmadinejad, that is...

EdoRiver said...

Ummm, this is just your opinion, which is not supported by more than anecedotal data. That's cool This is your blog. BUt if you bother to look at Washington Post/ABC poll data, there is about 40% who continue to support the gov. And this is 9 months old. So we could guess it has slipped another percentage point. This is the lowest it has ever been.
My point is that you made it sound like 90% of Americans feel the way your few contacts do. You simplify a complex society in the same way we tend to simplify Iranian views.

What you said, The American government represents the people: you should hold us responsible for the actions of our government

is true; the collective will voted and elected George Bush. I didn't vote for him, but I participated in an open and fair election. I support the results by any legal means. I certainly understand the sentiments the put George Bush in office. THey are the sentiments of family and friends, colleagues, etc. We are all responsible. I don't disown the President. He is, for better or worse, MY president.

So, it wasn't until recently that
your comment And now, on top of that, most are *not* represented by the current government.

has become somewhat true. This could and probably will shift upwards, IMHO, by next Nov. but how much??

Funny, but I have the feeling you are more accurate with your statements about Iran, because of your extensive travels and feeling the pulse, than I get from your comments about the American situation. I really question if you get out into the Mid-West and talk to small town and large town Americans, working class, business owners etc. You do qualify your statement, but you don't say how many you could talk to.

Don't get me wrong, I understand your feelings, but I just question how far your ancedotal information can extend...beynd the actual people you talk to. Why am I going on about this? Because I enjoy statistics, statistical analysis and scientific information. I trust the polling data from the major news sources now much more than before because I have better access to their analysis, questions and error margins.

There are more than a "a couple of Bush supporters" out there. ;-)

The government is not unstoppable, there are procedures that could be used.....procedurally. Have you head of the expression "Cut off your nose to spite your face" ? it is a good thing that continuity exists.

Anonymous said...

>>BUt if you bother to look at Washington Post/ABC poll data, there is about 40% who continue to support the gov

it is not strange in Iran ,Ahmadinejad has at least 30%-40% support too

Ripama said...

I don't think there's anything I can say which would apply to all Americans across the board.

Some of us don't look at government as a solution so we're disgusted when it tries to solve "problems".

Others see government as the solution of "problems", and are dissatisfied when they don't see government solving any "problems".

Still others don't care one way or the other.

My personal opinion is that the US government's bureaucracy has become a menace to government operations, Congress is responsive only to special interests and the president (any president) is incapable of changing it.

In other words, the US government is headed for a meltdown.

Anonymous said...

i didn,t comprehend that how far
this guy is off the track,starts with iran subject but at the end serves his prisedent,s(terroristnejad) agenda either wantedly or otherwise

Marie said...

I am uncertain of American democracy. Both of the last presidential elections were problematic. Abuse of power has been rampant. I never did figure out why Clinton's blow jobs were such a huge deal, but lying about going to war and all the other lies, flagrant abuses of power, and number of deaths (murder, anyone?) not an abuse of power. How did we impeach one president for sexual relations (no law was broken) but not the next for a fraudulent war and for outing a CIA agent (amongst many other infractions)? The whole thing is a mystery and a fiasco, and I, like most Americans, have lost heart even though I still go to the polls and vote.

I am grateful to be a woman in the U.S. though, to be able to walk out into the street dressed how I want without some jerk arresting me because my skirt is too tight or something.

And, by the way, where are you, Tori, if not the U.S.?

Tori said...

I am from a small midwestern town and did just spend the whole summer there. BTW, 40% approval is an incredibly low approval rating. It's just one that we have gotten used to during the Bush administration. I even met the odd Bush supporter, believe it or not.

I don't know what to say about AN's request to lay a wreath at Ground Zero other than I am pretty sure he knew he would be rebuked. I think if he is serious about bridging the gap, he could apologize for his misguided holocaust denial conference.

Anonymous said...

I think that one cannot set preconditions on compassionate acts, even those of heads of state. ron

tabarestan said...

you really believe that all american look like gorge bush? i dont think so

I.M.SMALL said...

SOME BEAT THEIR BREAST; SOME DO NOTHING

The remnants of civility
Are blowing in the breeze
Like ribbons of a tattered flag,
While--as uprooted trees
Be dragged by force of hurricane--
The principles of fairness
In discourse are discarded, thrown
Appeasement to the furnace.

These soulless men responsible
(Who beat their breast for "Christ"
An apparition hardly well),
Vertiginous and viced,
Have made no secret of their game,
And furtively stand tall
While no one makes the least attempt
To bring them to a fall.

They are well-known; their means are known;
And if some few are blinded,
That so forth no democracy
May function, be reminded--
The guilt and shame is huger than
The geodesic fact,
Yet though the world come crashing down,
Someone has got to act.

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