Presidential candidate John Kerryís platform and program were
way to the right of popular opinion on just about every issue in
the 2004 U.S. elections. To the extent that anybody could even
understand the program, people didnít favor it. People who voted
for Kerry are people who were concerned about the economy and
about health issues. Do you think those people could tell you
what Kerryís health program was or what he was going to do for
the economy? I mean, I couldnít tell you. You have to do a
research project to figure out what the program was. And itís
not that people failed to know it because theyíre stupid. Itís
because it was not presented as something comprehensible.
Of the people who voted for candidate George Bush, the major
categories were people who were concerned about terror and about
national security. Itís claimed that people who were concerned
about values voted for Bush, but thatís mostly a statistical
artifact. When you asked the further question, "What values do
you have in mind?" it turned out that the major values were
things like, "I donít like this society because itís too
materialistic," and "Thereís too much oppression." Those are the
values. Is that what Bush stands for? Getting rid of that? As
far as terrorism is concerned, the administration very
consciously chose actions that it was expected would increase
the threat of terror and, in fact, did. Itís not because they
want terror, itís just not much of a priority for them.
People who voted for Bush tended to assume that he was in
favor of their views, even if the Republican Party platform was
diametrically opposed to them. The same was largely true of
The reason for this is that the parties try to exclude the
population from participation. So they donít present issues,
policies, agendas, and so on. They project imagery, and people
either donít bother or they vote for the image. The Gallup Poll
regularly asks, "Why are you voting?" One of the choices is,
"Iím voting for the candidateís stand on issues." That was 6%
for Bush, and 13% for Kerryóand most of those voters were
deluded about the positions of the candidates. So what you have
is essentially flipping a coin. Each candidate got approximately
30% of the electorate. Bush got 31%, Kerry got 29%.
The party managers know where the public stands on a whole
list of issues. Their funders just donít support them; the
interests they represent donít support them. So they project a
different kind of image.
If you listen to the presidential debates, you canít figure
out what theyíre saying, and thatís on purpose. The last debate
was supposed to be about domestic issues. The New York Times
commented that Kerry didnít make any hint about possible
government involvement in health care programs because that
position has, in their words, "no political support." Well,
according to the most recent polls, 80% of the population thinks
that the government ought to guarantee health care for everyone,
and furthermore regard it as a moral obligation. That tells you
something about peopleís values. But thereís "no political
Why? Because the pharmaceutical industry is opposed, the
financial institutions are opposed, the insurance industry is
opposed, so thereís "no political support." It doesnít matter if
80% of the population regard it as a moral obligation: That
doesnít count as political support. It tells you something about
the elite conception. Youíre supposed to vote for the image
theyíre projecting. Thatís not surprising really. Just ask
yourself, "Who runs the elections?"
The elections are run by the same guys who sell toothpaste.
They show you an image of a sports hero, or a sexy model, or a
car going up a sheer cliff or something, which has nothing to do
with the commodity, but itís intended to delude you into picking
this one rather than another one. Same when they run elections.
But theyíre assigned that task in order to marginalize the
public, and furthermore, people are pretty well aware of it.
For many years, election campaigns here have been run by the
public relations industry and each time itís with increasing
sophistication. Quite naturally, the industry uses the same
technique to sell candidates that it uses to sell toothpaste or
lifestyle drugs. The point is to undermine markets by projecting
imagery to delude and suppressing informationóand similarly, to
undermine democracy by the same method.
In the year 2000, there was a huge fuss afterwards about the
stolen election, with the Florida chads and the Supreme Court.
But ask yourself who was exercised about it? It was all among a
small group of intellectuals. They were the ones who were upset
about it. There was never any public resonance for this. In the
current election itís being reiterated. Thereís a big fuss among
intellectuals about the vote in Ohio, how the voting machines
didnít work, and other things. But the interesting thing is that
Why donít people care if the election is stolen? The reason
is that they donít take the election seriously in the first
place. They reacted about the way that people react to
television ads. Itís a mode of delusion. If the Democrats want
to succeed in that game, theyíre just going to have to figure
out better ways of delusion.
There is an alternative, and that is to try to run a program
thatís committed to developing a democratic society in which
peopleís opinions matter.