US elections, despite all the media hype and endless rhetoric about ‘democracy in action,’ are in fact little more than manufactured political theater. The country that ceaselessly trumpets democratic values and transparency practices neither when it comes to its own elections.
As New Yorkers go to the polls in Democratic and Republican primaries this week, it is critical to once again highlight the myriad ways that democracy in the United States is, like most other things, a commodity to be bought and sold. From corporate control of the infrastructure of elections, to the creation of mass bases of support out of whole cloth, the candidates, as well as the system itself, cannot be trusted to be genuine.
Perhaps nothing illustrates this point more clearly than the results of multiple studies on Hillary Clinton’s online following which reveal that the majority of her Twitter fans, and indeed her social media following in general, are completely fake. Consider the implications of these findings from StatusPeople.com, and well-respected analytical tool TwitterAudit, which both found that no more than 44 percent of Clinton’s followers were actually real, active users of Twitter.
This may seem something trivial, but in fact it cuts to the very heart of the notion of democracy, and the legitimacy of a candidate who is perhaps the most obvious embodiment of the political and financial establishment in the US. Indeed, Bernie Sanders, among many others, has correctly noted that Clinton is in many ways the epitome of the ruling elite.
Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton © Mike Segar / Reuters
In a blistering commentary on Clinton during a nationally televised debate, Sanders proclaimed, “I will absolutely admit that Secretary Clinton… has the entire establishment or almost the entire establishment behind her. That’s a fact. I don’t deny it. I’m pretty proud that we have over a million people who have contributed to our campaign averaging 27 bucks a piece.” Sanders highlighted the fact that the political and financial elites back Hillary, and in so doing noted that his campaign is backed by millions of ordinary Americans.
But Sanders was equally, though perhaps inadvertently, illustrating the fact that the Clinton campaign is, in effect, being manufactured; that she has no real support except for a near consensus of establishment policy-makers and powerful individuals. And yet, here’s Hillary marching into yet another major primary with a double-digit lead. How much of that is based on a perception shaped – at least in part – by social media?
This phenomenon is not relegated only to Clinton’s campaign, however; this is true of most of America’s leading political figures. In 2013, it was revealed President Obama’s Twitter following was made up of a majority (53 percent) fake accounts. The Daily Mail at the time noted that Vice President Joe Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama, and the White House communications shop all had online followings consisting of mainly non-existent people. So too did the State Department under Hillary Clinton, which spent at least $630,000 to buy Facebook likes, essentially manufacturing a public following for itself.
But who cares, right? What does it matter if Twitter accounts and Facebook likes are fraudulent? How does that impact anything other than social media image?
How social media manipulation serves the Establishment agenda
Twitter, Facebook, and other social media have become very potent tools in the arsenal of the US Government as it wages a relentless information war in the service of the military-industrial complex and the agenda of the elite. In fact, social media goes far beyond just an image. Today, it has been made into an effective tool for the dissemination of misinformation and disinformation that conveniently buttresses whatever narrative the establishment wants. Take for example the lead-up to the criminal war on Libya. In early 2011, with the narrative of the ‘Arab Spring’ ubiquitous in western social media, the US-NATO machine set its sights on regime change in Libya, with social media as one of the critical tools used to achieve it. Close followers of that conflict will recall that dozens of Twitter accounts, purportedly from anti-Gaddafi Libyans, mysteriously emerged in the lead-up to the war that toppled the Libyan government, providing much of the “intelligence” relayed on western media including CNN, NBC, the New York Times, et al.
At that time (February 2011), PC World published a little publicized article entitled “Army of Fake Social Media Friends to Promote Propaganda” which noted that:
“… the U.S. government contracted HBGary Federal for the development of software which could create multiple fake social media profiles to manipulate and sway public opinion on controversial issues by promoting propaganda. It could also be used as surveillance to find public opinions with points of view the powers-that-be didn’t like. It could then potentially have their “fake” people run smear campaigns against those “real” people.”
Clearly the US Government and intelligence community have known from the beginning the power of social media, and its ability to influence public opinion and lay the groundwork for policies, as well as its potential as a weapon. In fact, the CIA has taken its social media arsenal much further in recent years. There are literally dozens of companies that have received seed money from the CIA’s investment arm, known as In-Q-Tel, in order to provide the intelligence and security establishment the ability to do everything – from real-time surveillance of social media users to data mining and more. In effect then, social media has become the playground of the elite, the terrain upon which their manipulation and social engineering takes root.
Is This Democracy?
OK, so social media followings are meaningless as they can be manufactured, as we see currently with Hillary Clinton. But surely the actual mechanisms of voting in the US are clean? Well, not exactly.
In this election season alone there have been massive failures in multiple states that have left countless thousands of Americans without the right to vote for their candidates of choice, or victims of outright fraud. Even Arizona’s Secretary of State recently admitted that fraud had taken place on a large scale in her state. The hacktivist collective Anonymous has provided detailed analysis pointing to the fact that state databases were likely hacked and manipulated.
And then of course there’s the issue of the voting machines themselves. Recently the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law issued a comprehensive report entitled America’s Voting Machines at Risk which found that the voting machines currently in use are outdated, running the risk of catastrophic failures. The report highlighted many shocking examples that should give anyone pause when considering the validity of election results. The authors of the report noted that “Virginia recently decertified a voting system used in 24 percent of precincts after finding that an external party could access the machine’s wireless features to record voting data or inject malicious data.”
This finding only further substantiates the claims made by many experts that the hacking of voting machines and election databases is all but assured, not just in the US but internationally.
A case in point is Andrés Sepulveda, a Colombian hacker who literally stole the Mexican presidential election for the current president Enrique Peña Nieto. Sepulveda, who is linked with Miami-based political power broker Juan José Rendón (the right wing king-maker widely seen as the engineer of numerous fraudulent elections in Latin America), has laid bare the utterly fraudulent machinations just behind the artifice of so-called democracy. Does anyone really believe that US elections are not equally suspect?
Finally, were the problem just the age of the voting machines and the ability of outside hackers to manipulate them, the machines could simply be replaced with more advanced, high-security equipment, and the elections could be deemed legitimate, right? Not so fast.
The fact is that nearly all electronic voting machines are designed and manufactured by companies such as ES&S (owned by Warren Buffett), Dominion (previously Diebold), Smartmatic, and Hart Intercivic, all of which are connected to very powerful interests within the ruling elite circles. In fact, researchers at the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University demonstrated that in under 60 seconds, anyone could bypass the lock and replace the memory card with another. As the researchers in the video explain, “Any desired algorithm can be used to determine which votes to steal and to which candidate or candidates to transfer the stolen votes.”
Put simply, there is little reason to trust the results of any election in the US. As Harvey Wasserman and Bob Fitrakis succinctly wrote:
“There is no way to verify the official tally on the electronic machines on which the majority of Americans will vote this fall. Nearly all the machines are a decade old, most are controlled by a single company (ES&S, owned by Warren Buffett) and the courts have ruled that the software is proprietary, making the vote counts beyond public scrutiny.”
Given these inescapable facts, there is little reason to wonder why Hillary Clinton, the darling of the establishment, is always smiling. She knows the game is rigged in her favor.
Despite the momentum Sanders has generated with his grassroots support, the Clinton machine is alive and well thanks to a fake support base, dodgy election infrastructure, and elite-controlled nomination process; in other words, corporate control of the election circus.
Think of these things the next time you hear President Obama, or Hillary Clinton, or anyone else spouting off about America’s democracy and its “exceptional” place in the world.
Eric Draitser is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City and the founder of StopImperialism.com. He is a regular contributor to RT, Counterpunch, New Eastern Outlook, Press TV, and many other news outlets. Visit StopImperialism.com for all his work.