The loss of faith in the political system and neoliberal ideology is widespread. The corporate elites are pouring $5 billion into the carnival of presidential electoral politics in a desperate bid to keep us mesmerized and controlled. Democracy is endlessly invoked on the airwaves to legitimize the corporate and political forces that have destroyed it. Congress has an approval rating of 11 percent. Half of qualified voters are not registered to vote, and half of registered voters do not go to the polls. A little more than half of 25 percent—no more than 15 percent—of the electorate determines who becomes president. And this is the way the elites want it.
In our system of inverted totalitarianism, the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin pointed out, the object is to demobilize the citizenry, to render it apathetic, to convince the citizen that all political activity that does not take place within the narrow boundaries defined by the corporate state is futile. This is a message hammered into public consciousness by the corporate media, which serve as highly paid courtiers to the corporate elites. It is championed by the two parties that offer up fear of the other as their primary political platform.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton hold the highest candidate disapproval ratings in American history—in that order. These two candidates, the system insists, are the only “rational” options. Step outside the system and you are disappeared or ridiculed. Acceptable political opinions, as Wolin wrote, are “measurable responses to questions predesigned to elicit them.” We vote, in the end, for skillfully manufactured personalities. Neither Trump nor Clinton in office will hinder corporate hegemony. Nothing will change until we revolt, until we defy the corporate system, until we wake from our civic stupor.