Beneath the marionette theater of American electoral and parliamentary democracy, policy is made by a “deep state” oligarchy of corporate and financial elites. The political actors atop the great quadrennial campaign carnivals speak in progressive-sounding terms of their commitment to equality, justice, peace, popular self-rule and the common good. Behind stage and screen, however, the contenders on both sides of the nation’s party duopoly—“two wings of the same bird of prey” (Upton Sinclair, 1904)—are captive to the nation’s unelected and interrelated dictatorships of money and empire.
After candidates who masqueraded as champions of the people get into office, voters and pundits who believed the politicians’ election season rhetoric and imagery express surprise and disappointment at the citizenry’s betrayal by those in whom they placed hope for change. But before the election, these disillusioned citizens had failed to notice numerous clues to the candidates’ plutocratic, imperial and authoritarian essences.