For a couple of weeks now I’ve had a strong suspicion that the narrative we’ve been sold in the west, i.e. the election was stolen from the left-leaning masses, is faulty.
Keep in mind–I want that to be true, so we can fight “the good fight”, turn our Twitter avatars green, and feel good about the situation. But a logical, unemotional analysis of the facts yields a completely different, and simpler, explanation:
Ahmadinejad won because he was vastly more popular–just not with the type of people we want to identify with in the West.
There is much evidence of this, actually. A Washington Post national opinion poll taken just three weeks before the election show Ahmadinejad winning by over 2 to 1.
Read that again. 2 to 1. Less than a month before the election.
So here’s what I think happened: the the supporters of Mousavi are predominantly upper-middle class. They are the most liberal and the most forward thinking. The young also favor him overwhelmingly. And guess what goes with liberal and forward-thinking youth?
- Social Media
In other words, the majority of the country is still old-school conservative. They are the Bush/McCain supporters of our country in 2004/2008. So while the world was watching, and hearing the digital voice of the Mousavi/Obama camp (because they’re the ones tweeting and posting blogs), it was the silent, conservative masses that swayed the election.
The subsequent cry of fraud is little more than redirected anger at the fact that their country is still too backward to embrace change. It’s like the frustration of the Kerry supporter who campaigned for him for eight months and gets asked in a Canadian bar after Bush won the second time, “Any country would elect Bush is a bunch of morons.” It’s a bad feeling, and that’s what we’re seeing from a disappointingly small subset of Iranians.
In short, I refuse to believe the progressives in Iran had the election stolen just because it feels better to believe that. True progress can only be made when we embrace the truth–no matter how uncomfortable it may be. And that truth is that there are still many, many Bush/Ahmadinejad supporters in the world. ::
[ 2009-06-28 : A number of people have pointed out that the polling data revealed roughly 50% undecided, and 14% refused to answer. This removes much of the force of the “2-to-1” findings. I remain persuaded by an Occam’s razor analysis, however, i.e. it makes more sense to me that many more people were conservative then they let on vs. an 11 million vote fraud. Still, I could be wrong. ]