(This is a rough translation of one of the recent posts of my Persian blog.)
Unlike the previous elections, I’m not so passionate about the nomination of Khatami for presidency in the forthcoming elections. Honestly, I wished reformists would nominate someone else instead of Khatami. The fact that Khatami has already been the president for 8 years and is now running again does not give me a good feeling. People get a chance, 4 to 8 years, to accomplish something in the capacity of the president, and I think Khatami did really well in his own term. However, I think this is a failure for the reformists’ camp to play Khatami again as their only card. This shows the stagnation of this group (party?) and their backward movement. It shows that reformists could not reorganize, have an influential and useful think tank, and progress. This group that calls itself reformist has not been able to even make any reforms within its own internal organization.
I don’t want to sing the disappointment song and predict that Khatami won’t be or should not be elected. He might very well win more than 20 million votes again. After all, when there is a shortage of key political figures, the charisma of a character like Khatami might help big time. I also don’t say that people should not choose between the “bad” and the “worse.” A pragmatic and realistic person who does not dream about another revolution would admit that the one that is “better” should be chosen anyway.
But what I’m saying is that the third nomination of Khatami is at odds with reform as an ideology. I can see that if we end up with Khatami and Ahmadinejad as our only options, Khatami would win with a landslide. But we should keep in mind, and the close circle around Khatami and his staff who apparently read our blogs should keep in mind, that if Khatami wins, it does not mean a victory or success for the so-called reformists. It would just mean that people didn’t have any better options.
I have a series of questions from anybody who calls himself a reformist in Iran: What do they exactly mean by reform? What do they want to reform? I don’t want to push it like some of my radical friends to ask why the “reformists” are not crossing the red lines and want to keep the status quo. I understand that we are talking about reform, not a revolution. Reform always works within the institutions and only changes some structures from within rather than destroying the whole institution altogether. It might be disgusting for some, but in order to pragmatically and realistically reform, you should negotiate with the power structures, you should give up some causes, and you should accept some undesirable aspects of the status quo. I also think that in the present situation of our country reform is a much more feasible and suitable option comparing to a revolution or the rule of the hardliners. (Well revolution is almost impossible.) But, are the people who call themselves reformists really believe in the concept of reform?
We can’t expect from the reformists to go head to head with the absolute power of the supreme leader or try to eradicate the Islamic nature of the republic or ask for lifting mandatory Hijab. Well reformists want to work within the present governmental system, and supreme leader status, Islam, and Hijab are main parts of the identity of this regime. If you take these things from the regime, nothing will be left from it. But are the reformists going to make changes in other aspects of the current system that are not so much entangled with the identity of the regime? Do they for example have a practical plan to reform the messed up situation of our economy and look after the poor and underprivileged class of our society whom identified more with Ahmadinejad in the previous elections? Do the reformists really have a practical plan to reform our educational system? Any plans for women’s rights? Do they for example have any plans to support the cause of the women’s movement in Iran in practice, a movement which is reformist in nature and not revolutionary? Would you be for example witness to Khatami’s support of One Million Signature Campaign through his actions to meet the campaign’s demands anytime soon?
My guess is that there are no plans. My guts tell me the scope of the status quo, that should be kept the way it is, is very broad for the reformists. My feeling is that there won’t be any radical changes, that is, no new change would happen comparing to the previous eight years of Khatami’s rule. My feeling is that at best case scenario we will experience a similar situation to the previous Khatami era; a period which was good for its own time. But more reform? More change? I don’t think so.
I think those who have a platform to talk should definitely challenge the reformists and ask similar questions from them in the time left to the elections. We should remind the reformists that “reformist” is not just a title; it has an ideology behind it that needs pragmatism and needs action. Reformists should be reminded that repeating the previous Khatami’s era is not enough and does not mean reform. Something beyond that should take place.
Dear reformists, tell us about your plans. Why should we vote for you other than the fact that we should choose the better option between “the bad” and “the worse”? What do you exactly want to reform and how do you want to do it?
I hope we won’t limit our demands to the least possible and won’t give up asking for more…