Column by Faisal Moghul.
Exclusive to STR
"There is one political party in this country, and that is the party of money. It has two branches, the Republicans and the Democrats, the chief difference between which is that the Democrats are better at concealing their scorn for the average man."
The giddy pageantry and mindless political theater of US elections mask the systematic assault on civil liberties and divert attention from the real issues – be it criminalizing dissent  under the NDAA , consolidating the domestic surveillance state , assassinating US citizens  without due process of law, refusing to close Guantanamo, supporting the Patriot Act, endorsing extraordinary renditions, waging open-ended wars across the globe, engaging in unwarranted saber-rattling against Iran, destroying America’s industrial manufacturing base  and persecuting whistleblowers  who expose the wrongdoings of their overlords while the country reels under the crushing burden of trillions in debt.
The super-PAC  driven American elections are not in any real sense a reflection of the popular will but an illusion of “choice” between two pre-selected spokesmen of the same oligarchy of interests; a periodic public relations stratagem in a managed democracy proffering the voting spectators a false sense of empowerment; the opiate of the “rascal multitude ” gripped by Stockholm Syndrome.
As political scientist Thomas Ferguson argues in Investment Theory of Politics , the two-party system largely functions as a mediator among competing business interests. At periodic intervals, powerful “investors” gather to select their next spokesman which, in this election, is a contest between the Microsoft, Citibank, and Time-Warner -sponsored lackey on one hand, and the Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Bain Capital -certified pawn on the other.
The old ventriloquist harboring the same agenda is back with a new dummy – the Republicrat: half elephant, half donkey, complete puppet! The correctness of his beliefs or the rectitude of his principles is as irrelevant as the sincerity, or lack thereof, of his purpose.
The Obam-ney paradigm is not concerned with meaningful change, but more about switching to the least objectionable successor – be it the Nobel Peace Warmonger brandishing his “kill list” or the Predator Capitalist Hawk refusing to release his tax records – to preserve the status quo. Grundnorms will not be questioned; meta-rules in favor of the oligarchs will never be challenged. Those who do  will find themselves silenced with surprising efficacy.
Unlike the seven famous debates between Lincoln and Douglas in 1858,  each of which lasted several hours, presidential “debates” in the era of television-based perception management amount to little more than a regurgitation of “conventional pieties” and an affirmation of “necessary illusions.” Moreover, unlike their predecessors, modern day American voters probably do not have the patience or attention span to withstand an hour of pre-packaged, vacuous sound bites. An educated citizenry is no longer a necessary prerequisite to a vibrant democracy; may the elitist-stooge with the most effective propaganda win.