Columns / Discourse / January 17, 2018

Why Republicans should be scared of the uprising in Iran

The Islamic Republic of Iran has recently been inundated with large scale public protests against the nation’s government. Beginning on Dec. 28, Iranian citizens took to the street in Mashhad—Iran’s second largest city. Back in the United States, Republican politicians—who have been largely critical of Iran’s government for years—have stated their support for the protesters. While Republicans might be glad to see Iran in turmoil, the conditions that led to the protests in the first place should scare them. While the goals of the protests have become multifaceted, the initial catalyst for the uprising was eerily similar to the conservative agenda.

Simply put, Iranian citizens are unhappy with the economy. Hassan Rouhani—the current president of Iran—looked to be doing well with the economy after making it one of his chief goals.

After making a deal with the United States in 2015—wherein he traded Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief on crippling economic sanctions—Iran’s economy was set to make a comeback. With the heavy sanctions lifted, Rouhani made some headway by increasing economic growth and lowering inflation, but these changes didn’t do much for the vast majority of Iranians.

In December, Iran’s proposed budget for 2018 was released. The plan included an effort to give billions of dollars to the elite religious establishment. The plan also included cutting cash subsidies, raising the price of gasoline, and the privatization of public schools. The poor and working classes saw this as betrayal and a renege on Rouhani’s promise to make the economy work for everyone. The protests erupted from there, and the impoverished citizens of the country were seen to rise up and call for revolution.

This uprising should worry Republicans because the economic conditions that led to the citizens rebelling are the same kind of conditions that the Republican agenda is set to create. If Rouhani’s economic promises sound familiar, it might be because they are very similar to the promises that Donald Trump made when he campaigned for president in 2016. Like Rouhani, Trump promised his voters that his economic strategy would help the middle and working class. Also like Rouhani, Trump can boast about the rising economic growth, but in both cases it doesn’t seem to be helping most of the country.

If Iran’s 2018 budget sounds familiar, it might be because it is very similar to the GOP Tax Plan that passed recently. Like Iran’s 2018 budget, the GOP tax plan also gives a significant amount of money to the elites, offers incentives to private schools and cuts subsidies that help  lower-income people.

Given this parallel, it seems strange that Republicans are lining up to back protesters in Iran.

While on CBS, Republican Representative Will Hurd of Texas stated his support for the protests, and Paul Ryan, one of the largest supporters of the GOP tax plan, tweeted his support of the uprising. Donald Trump also declared his support for the protests, tweeting:

“The people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism. Looks like they will not take it any longer.”

Republicans should see the pending revolution in Iran as a grave warning as to what happens when you promise economic relief to the poor and fail to deliver.

Stephen McAllister

Tags:  Donald Trump iran protests republicans

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