"We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false." -- William Casey, former CIA director, at his first staff meeting in 1981.
The great election theft of 2008 began months ago as the "unelectable" candidates were identified, branded, demonized, ridiculed and eventually weeded out one by one. It ended on January 30 when John Edwards, resurgent neo-populist and the last remaining bane of status quo oligarchs, dropped out of the Democratic presidential race.
So, through deft manipulation of voter attitudes by mass media, status quo corporatists and oligarchs can't really lose. This outcome may not meet the standard for election theft, but the results speak for themselves. Our ruling aristocracy has hijacked another critical election cycle, and they didn't even need electronic vote switching, voter caging, voter roll purging, deceptive mailers, stolen or destroyed ballots, access to proprietary source code, hacking for the GOP or simple understaffing in progressive precincts. At least not yet.
Nope. This variation on election theft just required that people turn their televisions to any of the conventional mass media news outlets -- notably Fox, CNN or MSNBC -- find a political talk show or panel discussion or rant fest, and internalize the labels attached to some of this year's presidential candidates: "controversial," "unelectable," "unconventional," "goofy," "loser," "weird," "outside the American mainstream," "radical." The candidates not so labeled are, by definition, the serious contenders and therefore the only ones we need to watch.
So that worked out well. We're now down to three corporatists and a Strangelovian loon. Corporate mass media were kind enough to choose these awful people for us on orders from their overlords at GE, Disney, News Corp, Viacom et al. Which was a real help because we didn't have to risk overheating our dulled, narcotized, under-exercised brains worrying about boring stuff like politicians -- unless Entertainment Tonight does a special on their wardrobes or what kind of cars they drive or their latest makeovers . . . you know, I mean something, like, you know, interesting and, like, I mean OH MY GAWD like WHERE'S MY IPOD!!.
It's axiomatic that as long as you can keep the choices within a narrow spectrum that you define and control, you can't lose. Which is to say, if a panel discussion only includes conservatives and their ideologies range from hard right to moderate right, a conservative point of view is inevitably going to prevail.
The only question is which subset of conservatism will come out on top -- Straussian neocon imperialism, Goldwater old school traditionalism, Chuck Hagel-style moderate right pragmatism, fire breathing hellfire and brimstone fundamentalism, Reaganesque happy face authoritarianism, non-ideological greed-driven corporatism or any of dozens of variants and little-known derivatives.
Being relatively smart people and well educated in the nuances of human behavior, media savvy corporate schemers have perfected the process of adapting the message control model to leverage the strengths of their mass media propaganda machines and get their way 100 percent of the time.
Thinning the herd
Voters had some real alternatives this time. Between Kucinich, Gravel, Edwards and even Ron Paul, people could have had the rare experience of voting their hearts, consciences, self-interests and party affiliations at the same time.
But the purge happened quickly. With the elimination of Edwards, all candidates with "unconventional" views, except for Paul, have been written out of the script, and his time is just about at hand. "Unconventional" in this case is code for believing the dangerous idea that government should promote life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That's absolutely unacceptable to the oligarchs because if that kind of nonsense catches on, it could undermine the only organizing principle left in this country: the dogma of ever-expanding corporate profitability.
A politically significant percentage of Americans have been taught by television to purge their minds of important issues like REAL universal health care, ending US military and corporate aggression around the globe, dealing somehow with the massive debt and trade imbalance Bush has piled up, figuring out some way to avoid another 1929-class depression, shifting scarce federal money to programs that actually help Americans rather than those that efficiently murder Middle Eastern civilians . . . And all this while halting and, ideally, reversing the ecological meltdown heading this way within a few decades at most.
It's life experienced as a passive consumer rather than as an active participant, and it has a way of keeping the peasants docile and compliant.
The ceremonial purging of the heretics