Bigger Than Mousavi

Matt Steinglass is glued to his monitor:

Iran has an electoral system that is similar in some respects to China’s or Vietnam’s. Elections are held periodically, but the lists of candidates are carefully vetted by the real controlling power structure in Vietnam or China’s case, the Communist Party; in Iran’s case, the clergy to ensure ideological compliance and loyalty. Moussavi passed through this system of ideological control; he’s no radical reformer. But what’s happened is that simply by representing an alternative, Moussavi became a vehicle for the expression of the hopes of people who are far more radical in their reformist hopes than anyone in the dominant power structure. Even though the players in the Iranian elections were all screened for their personal views, the simple fact of an election became a forum in which radical and unacceptable political views could express themselves and ultimately co-opt one of the candidates.