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Russiagate, Memes and Pokemon Ads: Is Our ‘Democracy’ Really That Fragile?

By Teodrose Fikre

Chew on this. $4,700 spent on Google ads, $47,000 invested on Facebook commercials, a smattering of Pokemon Go displays and some asinine memes; that is supposedly all it took to subvert the 2016 elections. If you believe the talking heads on TV, the Democrats hyperventilating on social media and the alleged “journalists” in mainstream media, it was not Hillary Clinton’s objectionable candidacy nor her repugnant strong arms tactics that swung the election. Rather, Trump’s ascension is owed to an intricate plot by Putin to stifle the will of the American electorate.

Even if we are to assume that less than a hundred thousand dollars in ads had more impact than the billions of dollars that Hillary Clinton spent and the billions more in free media that was ceded to Trump by way of wall-to-wall coverage by mainstream “news” outlets, should the concern not be that our supposed “democracy” is so fragile that it can be undone by such minuscule efforts?

As I’ve noted in the past, I have no doubt that Russia tried to influence the outcome of the 2016 election. This is nothing new; America and the USSR have been engaged in subversion and interfering in each other’s internal affairs since the start of the Cold War and prior. The fall of the Berlin Wall did not put a stop to subterfuge that both sides engage in, to this spies and clandestine operatives try to impose their will on the machinations of Moscow and DC.

Russia is not the only state actor that tries to influence our elections, countries throughout the world—including Israel, Saudi Arabia and Great Britain—spend millions, if not billions of dollars, to manipulate public opinion and tilt policies in their favor. This is not counting the tens of billions of dollars that corporate lobbyists, think tanks and private industries spend to buy up politicians and policy makers. Our elections are not determined by the will of the voters, they are driven by the cash of moneyed interests. Citizens United metastasized a cancer that was eating away at our republic since the days of robber barons and banking trusts.

Instead of shining the light on the insidious effects that dark and untraceable money are having on our elections, establishment voices would rather pump propaganda and pretend that the ills of our politics are linked to those damn Russians. There is a reason why most mainstream reporters, journalists and pundits go along with this laughable supposition, they too are under the influence of the very same corporate coercion that has thoroughly undermined our elections.

Money is the root of all evil, it is also the source of hypocrisy. Media personalities who know full well that this Russian interference narrative holds about as much water as a teaspoon filled with pebbles nevertheless go along with the farce because they are loath to speak up and lose their access to the platforms they are given. This is the reason why most mainstream journalists gave credence to the lies of weapons of mass destruction that rushed us into a genocide in Iraq and the same reason why they justify this never ending war of terror.

The biggest threat to our democracy are not the Russians but the American oligarchy and the globalist aristocracy who have weaponized their wealth in order to dictate foreign and domestic policies. A study conducted by Princeton University Professor Martin Gilens and Northwestern University Professor Benjamin Page concluded that the will of the people has taken a back seat to the deep pockets of billionaires.

“Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy,” present Gilens and Page in their study. “While average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.”

To put this in plain speak, Gilens and Page are telling us that elections are for show but the money of the plutocracy is what makes our government go. This is something most people with a modicum of cognition understand well; there is a reason why positions that are supported by most voters, like putting an end to preemptive wars and the wealthiest 1% paying at least as much in effective tax rates as a working mother at Day’s Inn, are ignored by elected officials. Platitudes are doled out freely by both parties to their base while policies are reserved for the gentry.


The problem with our elections is not outside interference, it is inside corruption. Cash has subverted our democracy and silenced our collective voices.

There is another danger to this outrageous narrative that is being spun by establishment voices. Most Americans understand that our governance is broken to the point of irreparable damage—as evidenced by the shutdown, the petulance of Donald Trump and the fraudulence of Democrats. Leaders acknowledge mistakes and take steps to correct them; charlatans misdirect and point fingers elsewhere.

Trump is a manifestation of a system that is hopelessly shattered. He claimed the White House by riding a wave of fake populism that played on the frustrations and anger of tens of millions of Americans. No, he did not get elected because of racists or due to Russian collusion, he is an indictment of eight years of Obama and Hillary catering to corporations and the military-financial complex while paying lip service to the rest of us. After Americans wake up to the fact that Trump is no different than his predecessors, they will lurch back to another counterfeit social justice warrior who will perpetuate the status quo.

If we truly want change to arrive in DC and clean up the swamp that is endemic of our politics, it is time for us to stop seesawing between Republicans and Democrats and realize that both parties are working against our interest. We must find a way to get corporate money and unaccounted cash out of politics and more importantly we must stop being a cult of personalities. Or we can just blame Russia and see where that gets us.

“The most common lie is that which one lies to himself; lying to others is relatively an exception.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Author Teodrose Fikre is the founder and editor of the Ghion Journal, and a former defense consultant was profoundly changed by a two year journey of hardship and struggle. Going from a life of upper-middle class privilege to a time spent with the huddled masses taught.

An original version of this article was first published at The Ghion Journal.

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