I'm trying hard to save my relationship with the American democracy these days by trying to remember why we fell in love in the first place. Democratic elections mean a lot to me personally. I spent the first 16 years of my life in Iran, a country that's run by an authoritarian theocracy where every little boy can grow up to become a president -- after showing his radical religious credentials and getting the approval of the Islamic Guardian Council; Iran is a country where people have full freedom of speech -- just not any freedom of post-speech; a country where people are thankful for sometimes feeling free enough to say "we aren't free." I moved to the United States by myself at 16 because I knew that if I stayed in Iran, my destiny and future would be written for me and not by me. I wanted to be the one to determine my quality of life and trusted with my judgment on who I believed could best help me achieve my aspirations.
But ever since I moved here, I have repeatedly found elements in the American electoral system that have left me disillusioned about the quality of this democracy. I was first disillusioned one year after my move when the Supreme Court of the United States stopped the counting of votes in Florida in 2000 and practically declared the candidate with the fewer popular votes the president of the United States. Learning about the Electoral College system during that election didn't help my sentiments about the process either. In the ensuing years, I learned more about how congressional districts are determined and the concept of gerrymandering. Again, I saw this as another way in which the integrity of this democracy has been distorted to benefit special interests over the people's interests.
Earlier in the current election cycle, I found two more disturbing elements that I saw as undermining the process: the level of money that every candidate seems to need in this election to compete, and the poor quality of the media coverage both in terms of the amount of control it has over candidates' shot for the high office through the level of coverage and in terms of its laziness and tendency to simply repeat the allegations made by one campaign against another in the form of he-said-she-said instead of adequately investigating the merits of those allegations. During these eight years, I have come to learn that America's promise for democracy about which I had heard so much in the streets of Tehran seems to come with a number of footnoted disclaimers I couldn't read from afar.
But throughout all of this, I have been able to keep my faith in the system believing that at least in this country, if people want to find the truth, they have the sources that they can conceivably refer to. Because of this possibility, it is conceivable to think that while it may take a lot more work than it should, the voters could at least theoretically become aware of issues and candidates' positions, and therefore, their votes could conceivably represent their true interests if they just take the time and energy to do their homework.
But what I have found most outrageous about the process ever since I came to the United States is the possibility that 800 so-called super delegates can decide and potentially reverse the will and judgment of millions of voters in this country on who they believe is the best choice for the Democratic Party's nomination. Not that it matters, but almost half of these superdelegates aren't even elected and have neither anything to lose nor any incentives to represent anyone's interests but their own.
No. This cannot happen. The United States prides itself in being the greatest democracy in the world despite the questionable rules by which elections have been taking place. But the notion that after all the biases and electoral flaws, 800 people could get together in a room -- smoke-filled or nonsmoking -- and outright reverse the final decision of the voters in this country is inconsistent with any reasonable definition of democracy. While it has become fashionable to mock the elections in Venezuela, Russia and Iran, this country will have no legitimacy in claiming the high ground when it comes to electoral integrity if it allows a Soviet-style nomination process to go forward and accept to live by the people's will overturned.
The combination of the burning passion of some Clinton supporters and their frustration about their candidate's continuous decline in status and chances for victory seem to have blinded them to the price they unknowingly seem to be willing to pay to get her nominated. What those would like to see Hillary get nominated -- either because of her credentials or her sex -- need to realize is that a woman has been able to come so far and become a viable candidate for president in this country -- and not in Iran -- precisely because of the democratic process. Democracy gives people the ability to fight for their rights and materialize them by voting for public servants whom they believe are most likely to defend those rights.
Having the superdelegates monopolize the democratic process will set the precedent for recreating the kind of old patriarchal class-system citizenship, the highest price of which women, minorities and the poor are going to pay in the long-run. Don't buy a $10 candidate on a credit card just to pay 30% interest on your rights and status as a citizen for the rest of your life.
Regardless of who you support, the defeat of your candidate may hurt in the short-run; but the value of having that happened because of a process that gave you and everyone else an equal voice is higher than that of any single candidate in this or any election in history.
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