Saturday, June 13, 2009

Punking the population mafia-style

Digby asks a great question today -- when folks steal elections, why do they make it so obvious? Why not cover their tracks a little better? I'll turn it over to her for the play by play (the intro and conclusion are Digby, the long quote in the middle is from Kevin Drum at Mother Jones):
I was going to talk a bit about why this vote rigging was so obvious and then I came across this post by Kevin:
I was at a book party for Bob Wright's The Evolution of God last night, and even then it was obvious that the Interior Ministry was probably rigging the vote. One of the topics of conversation was: when autocracies decide to do something like this, why do they do it so clumsily? Why not give Ahmadinejad 52.7% of the vote, which would be at least within the realm of reason? Or force a runoff and let Ahmadinejad win a week from now? Why perpetrate such an obvious fraud?

Hard to say. Maybe it's just too hard to orchestrate something more believable. Maybe, against all evidence, they believe that smashing victories are always more convincing than close ones. Maybe it's just rank panic and stupidity. It's a mystery — and a counterproductive one, too: there isn't a person on the planet who thinks that Ahmadinejad could have won two-thirds of the vote with a turnout of 85%, and the possibility of inciting an internal revolt is a lot higher with a barefaced fraud like this than it would be with something a little more subtle.

On the other hand, maybe we're looking at this through the wrong lens. Obviously something about Mousavi started to badly spook the powers-that-be during the past week, and maybe they decided something needed to be done about it. Maybe they wanted to provoke a round of violence from Mousavi's supporters as an excuse to lead a crackdown on dissidents. And what better way to do that than to make the election rigging so obvious even a child could see it?
I think it's clearly the latter. Authoritarians need to demonstrate their power and one of the ways they do it by making openly ridiculous claims and daring anyone to prove otherwise. If dissidents try, they will be put down hard. This is how they make the population feel impotent and powerless: "Yeah, I stole the election, what are you going to do about it?"

If they can get the media to tell the citizens to "get over it" they will complete the process.

Yep, that's it exactly.

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