Students in the state’s official propaganda institutions learn about the wonders of the democratic process, so called, throughout their years of formal study. But the truth is on full display during a presidential election season. These are not wise statesmen, discussing matters of importance from a disinterested, platonic summit, but narcissistic power-seekers shoveling ill-gotten gains to favored constituencies.
Elections have sometimes been compared to markets: just as firms compete for consumer dollars, political candidates compete for citizens’ votes. But the comparison is a superficial one.
When the consumer spends his dollar, he is guaranteed to receive what he purchases. So he researches that big-screen television, or automobile, or tablet, or smartphone. He considers his options and decides which one best suits his needs. He perceives the benefits that accrue to him from his purchase, and he is also aware of their cost. He immediately reaps the benefits of a wise purchase, and immediately suffers the loss associated with an unwise purchase.
When the citizen casts his vote, he gets what he votes for only if 50 percent of the rest of the population votes for the same candidate he does. So he may not in fact suffer any adverse consequences from a poorly cast vote. Likewise, the politician he chooses may win but not carry through on his promises. Again, there is no direct feedback mechanism for the voter the way there is for the buyer on the market, who immediately reaps the benefits of an informed decision and suffers the consequences of a decision made from ignorance. And although he perceives the alleged benefits bestowed by the state, he has no idea what their cost is.