Tuesday, May 03, 2016

The Voting Delusion

This November, I heartily encourage all Americans to exercise their civic duty by going to the polls and voting for one of the dignified Presidential candidates that have amazed us this election cycle with their wisdom and compassion... not!

Unfortunately, this is not a laughing matter. A large segment of the U.S. population is now very aware of the fact that our political and economic systems have become totally corrupt. And yet these knowledgeable people still cling to the delusion that this tragic state of affairs can be changed by voting.

Every once in a while I gently attempt to discuss this topic in “polite company.” It is astonishing how ferociously these “polite” people defend the myth of the ballot box. And so I will try to disabuse these well-meaning citizens from this idealistic concept, which has been relentlessly programmed into us since grammar school. I assure you that I received the same brainwashing, and I once believed in the power and nobility of casting ballots. And indeed, voting probably did “make a difference” at one time.

But the world of power politics has changed drastically. I contend that voting is not just meaningless in our present situation, but that it is actually harmful. That is a pretty bold and provocative statement, but I will now do my best to defend this contrarian belief. I will attempt to do so in a concise but comprehensive manner.

· WHO ENCOURAGES YOU TO VOTE? - Is it the factory worker who lost his job due to NAFTA? Is it the college graduate with $25,000 in student debt and a job at Starbucks? Is it the Senior Citizen spending their supposed Golden Years working as a Walmart Greeter?

No, the voices championing the sanctity of voting are the politicians, who benefit so obscenely from the status quo. They know that the ordinary person is struggling more and more just to get by. And so these Malignant Overlords cynically reinforce the deception that citizens can control their destiny by voting. They make glorious speeches about the power of the ballot box, while knowing full well that they are just shoveling bull feces.

· THE INCUMBENTCY PARADOX - Here is a perfect example of how broken the election system is. The job satisfaction ratings for Congress are justifiably pathetic. Most surveys have them at the 10 to 20% approval level. And yet the vast majority of these incumbents get re-elected. How does this happen? The answer is relatively simple. Money. Only rich people, or those willing to sell their souls to rich people, can afford the insane costs of campaigns these days. Regular people are essentially locked out of running for office. How many school teachers or welders are there in the Senate these days?

· THE TWO PARTY MONOPOLY – The Democratic and Republican Machines – oops, I meant Parties – make it nearly impossible for a third party candidate to run for high office. It starts with the gigantic voter registration demands that must be met in every state. Then the unlevel playing field becomes particularly apparent when an independent candidate is not allowed into the National Circuses – oops, I meant Debates. The media greatly assists in this duopoly by marginalizing any third party candidate as “unelectable.”

· THEY ARE NOT ELECTIONS. THEY ARE SELECTIONS. - The normal person has absolutely no say in who the people in charge will anoint as the designated candidates every four years. So, exactly how much power do the people truly wield if they only get a choice of two candidates who have both been pre-approved by The Malignant Overlords? And of late this choice has boiled down to the lesser of two evils.

And for those who argue that the primary elections express the will of the masses, you are deceiving yourselves in at least three ways. First, almost all of those running in the primaries have already been vetted by the moneyed interests. Second, the concept of Super-delegates makes a mockery of the entire process. And third, as we may witness this year, if those in charge are not happy with the prospective nominee, they will attempt to derail that choice in the backrooms of the convention. The euphemism they use is a “brokered convention.”

· CAMPAIGN LIES – NOT PROMISES – Do you remember, “I will close Guantanamo on my first day in office.” Or how about, “Read my lips…no new taxes.” Anyone who doesn’t realize that candidates will say whatever it takes to get more votes, might want to relocate to the Republic of Pollyanna. But just as the promises are false so are many of the supposed differences between the two parties. Regardless of which party is in power there seems to be very little significant change. The War Machine keeps plodding along. The banksters don’t get prosecuted. Privacy rights keep diminishing, etc. It is almost as though there were invisible players behind the scenes pulling the strings. Oh, wait there are invisible players behind… And these elite untouchables continually pit the regular people against each other as part of their divide and conquer strategy.

· VOTING IS A SEDATIVE - As long as people believe that the ballot box can change things in a positive fashion, then the Malignant Overlords can feel more secure in their power. But if the citizens realize that voting is an exercise in futility, they might opt for more vigorous methods of expressing their displeasure with the status quo. They might chain themselves to the White House fence, or Occupy Langley, or go even further into the realm of wooden shoes and monkey wrenches.

· CITIZENS UNITED IS ACTUALLY CORPORATIONS DELIGHTED – Here is a quick review of the state of American electoral politics. We have a status quo in which only rich people can even run for office. Predictably, they will not represent the interests of The Little Guy, but of the mega-wealthy people who got them elected. Thoroughly enjoying all of the perks that come with high office, these supposed representatives of the people spend an enormous percentage of their time in office raising money for their next election campaign.

The puny attempts at campaign finance reform that were already in place were totally vaporized by the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling. (Observe the double-speak here that would make even Orwell proud. What accurately should have been termed Oligarchs United was instead called Citizens United!) This legal decision took the gloves off of the corporations who could now saturate and distort the election process with boxcars full of money and unbelievably slimy TV attack ads.

· eFRAUD - If our elections are such sanctified rites, why is there no paper corroboration of the results? A cynic would claim that it is because such a back-up would reveal the tampering with the electronic balloting. Wander around the alternative media for a while and you will find convincing evidence of ballot counting irregularities. Such high-tech criminality makes the old Chicago mantra of “Vote early and vote often” seem almost quaint.

· I’M VOTING FOR “NOBODY.” – Probably the only tactic that would lure me back to voting would be if they included this option on every ballot: “NONE OF THE ABOVE.” Such a simple change might revolutionize the people’s ability to actually have some real power when they step into the voting booth. Since they will obviously never include this option on a ballot, I suggest a massive boycott. On election day “just don’t go!” If there was a 5% turn-out perhaps that would finally awaken the pundits to the reality of how widespread the discontent is out in the land.

· IS VOTING HARMFUL? – My original contention back at the beginning of this essay was that not only is voting useless, but that it is actually harmful. The reason that it is so detrimental is that it allows those who control us to justify their domination by proclaiming that “we elected them.” As I have tried to convincingly demonstrate, the election process is so bogus and flawed that while a diplomat might call it a charade, a truth-teller would call it a fraud.

And even though politicians claim that they are public servants, I believe that in your heart of hearts you truly understand. You KNOW that they do not “represent” you - they “rule” you!

by Ray Jason


Patrick said...

Collective myths that we learn since childhood, and which seek to make ourselves feel good about ourselves, are extremely hard to shake for many (but not for everyone, apparently, since only about half of eligible voters ever show up at the polls). The notion of the "power and nobility of casting ballots" is most absurdly expressed when someone says, "It doesn't matter who you vote for, as long as you vote!" Really??

George Carlin turned the bumper sticker phrase around when he said: "If you voted, you have no right to complain."

RML said...

There are workable, simple and beneficial-to-the-people resolves but asking the various wolves to step out of their facades allowing the sheep to regroup…well, good luck with that.

What would put an end to it — it would be Constitutional to have the States vote on a different methodology to seating their Representatives in Congress. Make this process like jury duty; a two year lottery in which the States pick who will represent them in Congress. Simple, clean and truly representative…and, yeah, good luck with that.

NowhereMan said...

I believe JUST DON'T GO is the best option available these days. Not a GOOD option to be sure, since it assures that the Oligarchy will continue to do as it pleases; but then again, they were going to do that no matter what anyway.

The BEST option would be a bottoms up referendum on whether or not the USA remains a "going concern" (to borrow an accounting term) at this point in time, and what are the options when we decide that it's not. Obviously, with the help of our European and Middle Eastern friends, we'd need to convene a war crimes tribunal to investigate and try the traitors behind 9-11, OKC, the 60's assassinations, and the numerous illegal wars, coups, and false flag terror events/campaigns instigated by powerful mostly US and international interests over the course of the last half century or so. Then we'd have to find a way to begin to equitably redistribute all the wealth these imperious jackals have stolen along the way. Talk about a monumental agenda!

Needless to say, absent a very LONG and BLOODY revolution, absolutely NONE of this is EVER going to happen, but I think it's valuable for everyone to at least recognize it and give voice to the sentiment. The world as we know it stands at a crossroads that will likely spell the end of us all before the end of this century, but if we can't even recognize that fact openly and at least begin to deal with it, then we might as well throw in the towel right now and be done with it.

Unknown said...

Hi Dmitri,

An interesting post, good food for thought. We are in a Total System Failure.

a) Assuming Democracy actually worked we would still have an IQ bell curve satisfaction problem. one size does not fit all.

b) Democracy has "an animal dominance" problem where the higher pecking order always eat first. It is not a coincidence that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

c) Representative democracy abstracts the problem a second degree where what the people want becomes what their representative wants at each vote.

d) Two Party Politics (and by specific Liberal/Conservative) is a disaster and the worst possible system because it means that 50% of the people are being disenfranchised and shafted all of the time. Multi-party, multi/diverse winners and losers would be a step forward for some of the ills of democracy.

e) A federal system where the people do not vote for the first over the line as their president leads precisely to where American politics now is.

f) Elected Senates guarantee political failure because they who are supposed to be the Gate Keepers just become higher paid prostitutes. Gate keepers should not have any reward other than Honour and Integrity and future preservation of their country.

---- Seneca (32AD) in his biography says that at that time The Roman Law was so sacrosanct that a lawyer was not allowed to charge for his services, in order that "Justice" would prevail.

f) Dictators always end up with well defined winners and losers. -- Our "Democracy" has morphed into well defined 1% winners and 99% losers, probably far more draconian than most Dictator systems.

g) Theoretically democracy is supposed to be "by the people, for the people". However, it is stated by the intellectuals that TPP and TTIP now makes governance subject not to the people but to business profit interests.

I think it can be said with certainty that the American Republic Governance System has failed and the Empire will follow shortly.


Alexander Carpenter said...

Joseph Stalin famously (and apocryphally) said that "It is enough that the people know there was an election. Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything."

All the GOP noise about "Voting Fraud" misses the simple fact that for decades almost all that fraud happens on the other side of the ballot box, especially now that there's no paper trail.

Elections are now just a Potemkin Village for the masses, more narcosis and noise for the Sheep.

forrest said...

Yes, for anyone with any experience of actually programming computers, the idea of letting a computer programmed by somebody else count votes is incredible. How hard is it to change a variable representing a valid count -- for any number the programer or his employer wants displayed instead?

Even miscounting shouldn't be necessary. All it takes to make an American believe whatever you want -- is to let him (voluntarily!) plop himself down in front of a tv, where the all the Designated Authorized Authorities promote your view -- or even better, just take it for granted. Anyone of differing views is described/portrayed as confused, fanatical, simply bonkers. [I'm told that what makes a propaganda system effective is not that it strongly promotes the opinions to be inculcated, but that it leaves no holes through which any other ideas might penetrate.]

So, yes, the Bastids will continue to do what they want; and if they find out that people don't want that, they'll simply work to make their manipulations more effective.

Probably we really shouldn't vote; it only helps them know how well their lies are working...

Charles D said...

When I read posts like this one, I am reminded of the speech by Mario Savio at UC Berkeley in 1964: "There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part! You can't even passively take part! And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels…upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop! And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!"

If we are serious about the change required, we need not only to passively refuse to vote but to prevent the election from taking place and prevent the beneficiaries of the corrupt electoral processes from taking office and exercising authority over us. Americans are not going to get angry enough to take this or any other substantive action until the system, the economy, their world collapses. Perhaps we could convince Russia and China to setup NGOs in the US to "promote democracy" and help us engineer a color revolution in the streets of Washington.

Unknown said...

I see the appeal of a mass voting boycott, perhaps by young people in particular, to convey a renunciation of both candidates. I think it was referred to as Slacktivism. I suppose that when you "hold your nose " and vote for the less of two evils, your ballot legitimizes the system by indicating your assent. Then the victor is welcome to boast about the high turnout (which is never terribly high) and claim to have an electoral mandate for anything they want to do.

You are spot on about the outrageous lying on the campaign trail, which the media now shamelessly tries to legitimize by referring to "tacking to the left/right" then "tacking to the center". Certainly the process pressures the candidates to do this but it still means well-intentioned voters are deceived.

Regarding the cost of a campaign, even your moribund local newspaper will charge thousands of dollars for a small black and white advert. Radio and television are extremely expensive, and candidates are expected to have ads running constantly. There's no way to fake it, you will need hundreds of thousands of dollars for most campaigns these days. I believe the average congressional campaign now costs over a million dollars.

SamanthaSez said...

I could vote for Nobody. He sounds like the kind of grass-roots leader that would not be assassinated.
The comment about 'invisible players behind the scenes pulling the strings' reminds me of a great educational resource: Tragedy and Hope 101.
Malignant Overlords indeed.

Rhisiart Gwilym said...

NowhereMan, please don't insult jackals like that: Loveable and respect-worthy wild canids.

I suggest that the best contempt word for the loathsome humans concerned is 'gics' - gangsters-in-charge.

GHung said...

I get your point, D, but out here in rural communities, voting for local offices still matters a lot, so I always vote. Doesn't mean I have to like it, especially considering the choices we're stuck with on the state and federal level. I sometimes write in a former candidate who didn't make the general election, or write in myself, just to feel better.

candrich said...

My candidate is different.
My candidate will change things.
My candidate will save us.
Every four years.

jetstove said...

The fanfare of the presidential elections is the epitome of foolishness. We are not electing a president, we are choosing a king. The original idea of a president was to has a spokesman for the states within the union of the United States. The presidential power has exceeded its mandate and now "executive orders", though unconstitutional, rule the country. At least some states allow people to vote on state "propositions".

As for Canada, my nation, we are allowed 15 minutes of democracy every four years and then have to put up with the "popular" ruler until we select our next totalitarian government. Political parties should be abolished and only independents allowed to hold office. The elected members of Parliament should represent their constituents and not the party line. A representative should be subject to recall and elections called whenever a sufficient number of voters voice their displeasure.

In an ideal world, governments should stay out of the lives of the citizen except in the case of civil defense. The newest Canadian motto is to "serve and protect". Isn't that the motto of many police forces around the world? Is Canada going to become a police state?

Dana said...

An issue we need to recall, in all of this, is our passage as a species several hundred years ago from small tribal communities to sedentarism, originating in Europe, which is what engendered the notion of property ownership and the consequent, progressive concentration of wealth. Leading ultimately to the self-destructive extortionist financial and rentier industries we know today.

We need to recall and to take this evolutionary process of our species very seriously. What, if anything, can we do about it? Today, 'nation states' and so-called 'democracy', voting and elections amount ultimately to the acceptance of the notion of ownership of property and mass-scale exploitation of humans [ie, enslavement].

So, yes, in the context of the burlesque elections in the US [as well as in most 'Western' countries], better to boycott them.

But the question remains, is our species, with our presumed sophisticated brains, simply a failed experiment? [from which the planet of course will recover within a few hundred thousand years] or might we, the 99%, not want to find / create the means to put an end to this insanity …

Unknown said...

In 85 I lasted 2 months working for a corrupt congressman from Maryland (hired as a researcher-writer). Lobbyists streamed in daily, taking the senior staff out to eat. The rube congressman, a blundering 40 year old or so, was ushered into office by his senior "assistant", the real brains, by a clever campaign. Four TV sets blared all day in the main offices depths, keeping up with media trends. In the office was a photo book labeled "Junkets" on it: photos of staff climbing volcanoes in Hawaii, having meals in Europe, and really fun trip stuff. The senior assistant (now recognizable as a bonafide sociopath) had sent his only son off to a military school and the office manager, "Todd", went home with him every night. Todds most memorable trait was horrible breath, like some body chemistry experiment gone terribly wrong, and he often made odd references to anal bleeding in light office banter. It soon became apparent I was the designated heir to a long line of Todds that historically snaked through the office so I didn't last long. This whole twisted machine had lasted years already. The office had "pro" and "con" letters to send out to the district sheeple, depending on their stance. Maybe these jacked up public trough parasites were atypical but I think not.....

Stacy said...

Hi Jason/Dmitry,

I agree with your premise at the level of national and state-wide elections. This is not new news-it's older than I am. This may also be the case at the larger municipal level, but I have always lived in small and medium-sized towns, so I can't speak with any authority about those places. However, at the level of the smaller town/county, decisions are often made publicly, by the narrowest of margins, and effective pressure is brought to bear on decision makers and those who hold elected office. Perhaps you paint with too broad a brush?

Zoltar said...

Everything you suggest about our broken democracy is true, including your contention that voting no longer serves a constructive purpose, but your suggestion that not voting might somehow fix things does not follow.

The Archdruid often warns us about binary thinking. Identifying the opposite of a problem does not constitute a solution.

While I agree that the state of our political system is far beyond amelioration in the voting booth, the Deep State can easily respond to widespread disinterest in voting with a feigned sigh about inexplicable “voter apathy” – or just make up whatever poll numbers it likes.

My donkey said...

GHung wrote "voting for local offices still matters a lot" and I agree it does (or can) in many instances, but there are also situations where municipal governments are overruled by a state government, such as yesterday's ruling in Colorado that overturned a ban on fracking in the city of Longmont:

Is this another example of corporate profits being judged more important than the wishes of local residents? Or is there something else going on here? If a state government banned fracking, could that be overruled by the federal government?

DeVaul said...

I have never voted. When I tell people this, they act amazed or shocked, and ask me why I would not want to exercise my right to vote. They also sometimes tell me that I cannot complain because I did not help elect the "right person", or some such nonsense. I'm also unpatriotic and etc., etc.

My answer to all this has always been the same: I cannot vote for a criminal.

I then remind these people that in the Soviet Union, failure to vote for Commissar A, B, or C would land you in a gulag in Siberia. In America, we have the right not to vote for criminals, so why do we not exercise this right?

It can be taken away at any time. In fact, I expect it will be.

NowhereMan said...

@ Devaul: "It can be taken away at any time. In fact, I expect it will be."

Predictive programming has long been a successful political marketing technique, so I wouldn't be surprised at all if we decide at some point to apply it to the actual election process itself as well. Simply collect demographic data and previously gathered consumer preferences and then apply predictive modeling to the overall electorate to select a winner. The whole thing could even be played out in real time via CGI and Hollywood production and scripting techniques to provide a live action simulation of an actual election in progress. Of course, just as in real life (but with greatly more accurate targeting) the candidates' "policies" themselves would then be molded to fit the likely winning groups, so we'd in effect have a sophisticated, real world 21st century simulated reality computer game, which predictive programming has already long since conditioned the younger generations among us to accept. And in all likelihood it would be at least as legitimate as the totally corrupt system we have in place now.

Caryl said...

All your points are good. The problem is you discourage voting from the kind of people who read your blog -- in other words, the most awake and aware portion of the population. This is a negative outcome, it seems to me.

NowhereMan said...

@ Samantha SEZ: Thanks for that link!

Boiled toad said...

Not enough. I suggest showing up and spray painting your ballot black. Over turning the booths and tables strikes me as a good idea. You will not find demoncracks or rupugnlicans is the Constitution. I just want my country back!

King Tuthill said...

While I agree wholeheartedly with most of the points of this post, as well as the overall theme that, except maybe in local elections, our electoral process is a sham and that voting is ultimately an exercise in futility, there is a glaring inaccuracy with respect to the power of the establishment parties to control the nominating process and preempt third party candidacies. As we well know, in the current cycle, one non-pre-approved, self-funded, outsider candidate has broken through the wall of one party. And another non-pre-approved, grass-roots funded, outsider candidate has made/is making a serious challenge in the other. Furthermore, it's within the realm of possibility that the second candidate, were he to run as an independent in the general election, with his broad appeal to independent voters, could draw enough disaffected voters from both of the other candidates to cobble together a victory. Of course, the shadow government being the true center of power, the victory of any of the candidates will be largely symbolic. But at least in two out of the three choices, the people would have had their "say".

As to the idea of a mass boycott, the only thing that would actually be effective would be a total boycott. Nobody votes, nobody wins. Wouldn't that be an interesting scenario? Too bad it'll never happen.

DeVaul said...

@ Caryl

"The problem is you discourage voting from the kind of people who read your blog -- "

And let's say you yourself are voted into office. It's just one office of many, all of which interconnect to form a system. Do you really believe holding this one office will change the "system"?

Have you thought about how your time will be spent in office? What will you say to the long line of people who appear at your door with bribes, donations, gifts, and whatever else they have learned is necessary to get you (an officer holder) to sign on to their particular agenda, which is almost always of a criminal nature and involves getting taxpayers to foot the bill for enterprises that profit only a few.

Will you say "no" to all of them? Will you turn down the thousands or millions offered for your services? And what of your colleagues, who hold similar offices and outnumber you? Will they not fight you tooth and nail to keep their precious system alive and well? After all, being unskilled in anything else, politicking has become their path to instant wealth. Will they not perceive you as a threat to the system and hence their very livelihood?

If all you do is spend 2-4 years saying "no" to criminal enterprises and fighting off smear campaigns by your corrupt colleagues (and their puppet masters), what have you accomplished? The system remains.

Life is too short to waste your time on such people. Unless you are prepared to open the drawer, pull out a .45 magnum, and go all "Western" on their ass, my advice to you is to avoid them as much as possible and try to do something more meaningful with your life. That's what I try to do.

Unknown said...

There is a problem using global median wage tables as a proxy for measuring comparative standards of living. Even the Gallup site linked above says so, but the poster doesnt seem to notice, being swept up in the urge to remind low income americans that compared to zambia, they should just STFU.

This is the same argument used by privileged personal responsibility phonies to silence black americans by telling them they're SO MUCH BETTER OFF than ne-groes in a.frica. Uh huh.

An american earning $15000 annually cannot afford education, healthcare, a vehicle or own a home and is hard pressed to afford transportation, heat, food and clothing. Hence,working people with no paid leave must go to food pantries during work hours.

In denmark or italy he/she would have access to healthcare, childcare and higher education. in sierra leone, perhaps a plot of land to raise food or unrestricted right to sell things in the public way.

The social/economic position of a nations poor must be measured in terms of the society in which he lives and non-monetary resources available.

While poor americans are materially better off than poor sierria leonians, they dwell at the bottom of the industrialized countries living standards and belpw many of the developing world. Look at life expectancy, infant mortality, incarceration and mental illness for a better picture.

The life of no-benefit, no security, no future, over-policed, american debt slaves is a brutal one, as their falling life expectancy reveals.

Larkin said...

Mr. Jason's excellent piece exemplifies my point of view exactly.
I will not be voting in this election. If Hitler runs for president, so be it!

The first reason is the credibility and integrity of computer voting. Diebold and other contractors keep the software secret are proprietor privilege.

Storing and calculating votes in an election is simple data collection and tabulation. This process is much less complex than any point and purchase inventory program found in every convenience store in the country. There is no reason for not to be completely transparent.

The public does not seem to question it. Big media refuses to pursue it and yet big media and every charlatan politician are still looking for that one illegal immigrant that would risk jail time by being foolish enough to try to vote in an election that may be fraudulent in the first place.

Mr, Jason's most original proposal is to be able to check the box, 'None of the above'. This more than anything would expose the charade we call elections.

NowhereMan said...

@ Unknown: EXCELLENT points all! Opting off of the debt treadmill and the need to "hustle" for ever increasing amounts of money merely to stay afloat is simply not an option for most of us living in the industrial west.

Murdoch Matthew said...

I'm with Stacy and GHung. Voting can make a difference in local elections. Even our congressman is interesting -- corporate in DC, liberal at home, supporting effective city council persons and members of state legislature. Our assemblyman is pragmatic, working to pass legislation useful in the community. Would not want his election thrown to people looking to profit from it. We have a friend who chairs the education committee on the city council, supervising the expenditure of billions. He has a hard slog fighting off the charter school people who only want to tap those funds.

Yeah, we're fucked, the vote is whatever the counters can get by with (even when light is shined on them, there are no consequences). Nevertheless we can still work to make the local community function.

JeanDavid said...

In spit of your recommendation not to exercise their civic duty by going to the polls and voting for one of the dignified Presidential candidates that have amazed us this election cycle with their wisdom and compassion..., I would like to do it.

But who, pray tell, among the dignified Presidential candidates...? The two most likely to win are Clinton and Trump, neither of whom can possibly be called dignified. And Jill Stein has no ghost of a chance of being elected. Even if a great philosopher-king turned up by then (s)he would be either assassinated outright, or politically castrated in some other way.


Unknown said...

I fear that should there ever be an awakening and some ground level organizing, which would include boycotting of the ballot box, that those in power would simply remove the velvet glove and bludgeon us into submission. Voting at least allows the illusion that we are a free people.