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Democracy Now?
An Open Letter to the People of Iraq  

by Mickey Z.
June 27, 2004

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Dear Future Democrats:

Many of you must wonder what lies ahead once the benevolent forces of freedom have succeeded in creating an American-style democracy in Iraq. Allow me, if you will, to offer you a glimpse into the future.

American democracy allows for free and fair presidential elections open to any candidate over the age of 35...who praises god and the free market (am I being redundant?), describes his enemies as “evil,” understands that the rest of the world hate us because we’re free, and can raise at least $200 million. Third (sic) party candidates are routinely barred from public debates (and often censored by misguided “progressives,” for that matter), only half the eligible voters even bother showing up (trust me, more of you will vote for the winner of “Iraqi Idol” once you have our system), and when all else fails, you can count on your Supreme Court to set things straight (and I do mean straight).

Prisoners (and there will be lots of those) will not vote...the same goes for many former prisoners. The vast majority of congressional elections are essentially uncontested and an increasing number of other elections are being “won” by rich white men like Bloomberg, Corzine, and the Terminator.

Okay, so you’ll have no say in who runs things but at least you’ll finally have a free media, right? Well, not so fast. The airwaves are public property...but are corporate-occupied territory. The same goes for public lands, by the way. Your pension funds are also yours but someone else controls them...typically a multi-national corporation or a corrupt union.

Immense insurance and pharmaceutical conglomerates will rip you off when you’re sick...and you will get sick. American democracy guarantees freedom of choice when it comes to meals (Big Mac or Whopper) and when it comes to death (heart disease or cancer). But, cheer up, you’ll have hundreds of cable networks to distract you...and video games...and websites...and all that good stuff that comes along with “freedom.”

Your land will be paved, your lungs filled with SUV exhaust, your water undrinkable, and the top one percent of Iraqis will own wealth equal to the bottom 95 percent. From the cradle (over-medicalized birth process) to the grave (millions in nursing homes against their will), you will enjoy the fruits of liberty. Your children, like ours, will be vaccinated and medicated to attend schools that teach them to sit still, ask permission to use the bathroom, and respond to the sound of a bell. But they’ll all be wearing Nikes and carrying iPods…

You’ll be searched at the airport, shot at by overzealous cops, priced out of the neighborhoods you grew up in...but I guarantee you won’t have to walk more than two blocks to find your nearest Starbuck’s. Wait, did I say “walk”? I meant “drive,” of course. Third World of me.

Gays can’t get married, women will earn 75 cents (at most) for every dollar men earn, a quarter of your people will go without health insurance...but buying your daily scratch-off lottery ticket will make it all feel better.

I could go on and on, my future brothers and sisters in democracy, but I may have already said too much. You see, in American-style democracy, you can march and you can gripe and you can put on quite a spectacle of state-managed dissent but you don’t want to run afoul of the laws like the USA PATRIOT Act or programs like COINTELPRO. How else can a system based on freedom, justice, and equality remain in control?

Good luck with your fledgling democracy...I’ll see you at the gas pump.

Mickey Z. is the author of four books. For more information, please visit:

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