This description of Russian politics in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election fits well here in America as we approach our own plebiscite next year.
“I believe there is no competition,” says Olga Kryshtanovskaya, a member of Putin’s United Russia party and a sociologist at the Russian Academy of Sciences who studies the decision-making elite. “Our politics are a theater. There are directors and a script. And for some reason they love it when the public says there are conflicts.”
Lilia Shevtsova, a mordant critic of the administration and a senior associate at the Carnegie Moscow Center, uses remarkably similar language in reaching a comparable conclusion. “There are no politics,” she says. “Politics exist where you have an independent media, attentive audience and unpredictable script. What’s interesting is that the Kremlin supports this story-telling.” (emphasis added)
We certainly have no independent media, no attentive audience. We do not have an unpredictable script. The only unpredictable elements in American politics are which shill will be chosen to serve the moneyed interests and how irrelevant the public discussion, to the extent it occurs at all, of critical issues will be.
The similarities between Russian and American politics these days are enough to make a body wonder who buried whom? The glitz and pretense in Russian politics are definitely American and western features. But for much of its history, Soviet Communism was primarily an elite convincing the masses that they were living in paradise while forcing them to accept much, much less. These days that sounds all too familiar in America.