When The Powerful Control Public Opinion, Elections Aren’t Real

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by Caitlin Johnstone, Caitlin Johnstone:

I’ve been ignoring the US presidential race because the election is rigged.

When someone says US presidential elections are rigged, there are a number of things they could mean by that. They could be claiming votes are actively tampered with to ensure a particular outcome, as Republicans commonly claimed in the 2020 election. But that isn’t the claim I’m putting forward here — even though the US does have the most dysfunctional elections out of any liberal democracy on earth.

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They could also be talking about how legalized corruption in the United States allows the wealthy to manipulate election outcomes and extract political loyalties via campaign donations. While certainly a well-established fact, that isn’t what I’m talking about here either.

They could also be talking about the fact that it doesn’t matter who wins the election since the US president is only a figurehead who pretends to run a country that is actually ruled by unelected plutocrats and empire managers in secretive government agencies. Again this is absolutely true, but that’s not what I’m talking about in this particular essay.

Actually, you could fix all the problems in the American voting system, and US presidential elections would still be rigged. You could fix campaign finance laws to the point where the wealthy are no longer able to use campaign donations to achieve desired political outcomes, and US presidential elections would still be rigged. You could give the US president all the actual government leadership powers you were led to believe he has as a schoolchild, and US presidential elections would still be rigged.

US presidential elections would still be rigged because mainstream political opinion would still be shaped by the wealthy and powerful people who control the sources from which Americans have been trained to get their information. So long as the rich and powerful can manipulate public opinion at mass scale through the corporate media, through Hollywood, and through Silicon Valley algorithm manipulation, they can rig elections however they want.

There’s a quote attributed to Albert Einstein that’s been going around social media for years which usually goes something like, “There will come a time when the rich own all the media, and it will be impossible for the public to make an informed opinion.” Unlike most cool quotes you’ll see attributed to Einstein on the internet, this one is based on something the renowned theoretical physicist actually did say — except he wasn’t forecasting something happening in the future, he was talking about something that had already happened when he wrote about it in 1949.

In his essay “Why Socialism?”, Einstein wrote the following for Monthly Review (emphasis added):

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