The Matrix Hides Electoral Fraud
Examining Psychological Resistance to Facing Lies
The Red Pill Leads to Truth
Few Americans know about the historic event that happened on January 6, 2005, the official date for counting electoral votes.
For the first time since 1877, congressmembers challenged the electoral count. Representative Stephanie Tubbs-Jones of Ohio, accompanied by the lone senator, Barbara Boxer of California, led the challenge to the Ohio vote count. Although massive fraud was reported around the country, only Ohio was officially cited.
It is curious that an issue so profound and consequential is barely on the radar screens of most Americans, especially of those who supported Kerry.
Though we are not certain of the actual outcome, statistically impossible discrepancies exist between results of exit polls and official counts in counties without paper trails. Also documented are patterns of corrupted procedures and strange behaviors, phenomena, and illegal interventions in Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and other states. Many say there is fraud in every election. The fact is, there was far more fraud in 2004 than in any previous year, and if the errors were random, about half would go in Kerry's favor. Virtually all went in favor of Bush. [See More Evidence of Vote Corruption, in this update -- Ed.]
But rather than demanding a thorough investigation, many Americans seem eager to forget the incidents and put the election behind them, thus implicitly supporting such corruption. In my conversations, I observe that white, US born males are more emphatic about accepting the outcome and the futility of challenging it, while others are more willing to recognize being dominated and are open to questioning what happened. White males may be more susceptible to obeying patriarchal authority; the fish does not know it is swimming in the water. This difference was reflected in Congress. Women and members of the Congresional Black Caucus were most active. Representative John Conyers led the investigation and press conferences, and women -- Stephanie Tubbs Jones in the House and Barbara Boxer in the Senate -- led the historical challenge.
A Political, Psychological Puzzlement
The First Lie: A Divided Nation
Under what conditions do millions of allegedly free people knowingly acquiesce to being deceived, dominated, and deprived of their own political will? How is it that even those who were politically engaged for their very first time now resign themselves to an unjust fate? Why do they refuse even to consider what really happened here in our country? Why do progressive citizens actively dismiss, and even malign, the small group of courageous, devoted people working day and night on their behalf to uncover, calculate, analyze, and evaluate the extensive, varied forms of criminal sabotage that undermined their democracy? Why is it that Americans are becoming complacent with escalating fraudulent activity? In other words, how do so many people live with the knowledge that they have been tricked before, were tricked again -- and then submit to life under the power of those who tricked them?
Why were hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians out for days in the freezing cold, refusing to accept fraud, while Americans helplessly colluded with forces of domination? Psychology holds some answers for us.
First, we should note that we face a conspiracy of silence in the American media, alongside a propaganda campaign discrediting exit polls (which are routinely found accurate in counties around the world). We face facile dismissal of those who challenge the vote: they are "nuts," "sore losers," and "conspiracy theorists." In subtle yet powerful ways, censorship, brainwashing, and intimidation create the initial environment of passivity and fear that maintains the apathy or complicity of those who have been robbed.
Turning back to Ukraine, another significant reason for the successful protests there, as has been pointed out by readers commenting on an earlier version of this article, was that Yushchenko himself was bold and courageous about challenging the vote. Gore, of course, discouraged a challenge, and Kerry backed down immediately after his running mate, John Edwards, promised to count every vote. Yushchenko, who was poisoned and scarred, provided a powerful model of leadership, inspiring his supporters, too, to be brave. The Democratic Party as a whole, except for the few individuals who led and continue to lead the challenge, acted cowardly, inspiring no one. Why should anyone rise to the challenge if their maligned leaders themselves wimp out?
As Carl Jung put it, consciousness is a work against nature.
Yet another reason for the success in Ukraine was that citizens there know their history of oppresive, deceptive government. Unlike Americans, they are not inclined to trust the integrity of their leaders and system, and hunger instensely for justice and the freedoms that we have enjoyed.
Even with these explanations, we must still wonder what is going on in the collective psyche that allows mass submission to systematic and progressive usurpation of power.
The Dance of Domination
A Subtler, More Devious Lie:
The Purple States of America
The psychology of electoral domination has two parts: what is being done to people, and how they allow it.
Psychological techniques, used deliberately, allow many glaring acts and tricks to go unnoticed and unchallenged. For example, "mystification" is a plausible misrepresentation of reality in which forms of exploitation are presented as forms of benevolence. It is similar to the use of distraction, and it works almost like magic. For instance, the issue of voting reform was manipulated and misrepresented through mystification. Americans were calmed by an illusion that the problems from the 2000 election were galvanizing corrective action, when in fact the exact opposite is true. How many people have actually read HAVA? (HAVA, by the way, stands for the "Help America Vote Act," a name as Orwellian as the Clear Skies Initiative. The bill could more accurately be called "Hide America's Voting Anomalies") The bill includes intrusive identity checks, the introduction of the "provisional ballot," most of which are never counted, and the forced use of electronic voting machines. Each of these was brilliantly used in 2004 for the opposite intention -- to corrupt and deny votes to Kerry in ways people wouldn't notice.
Mystification was just the beginning. The subterfuge of 2004 and the subsequent cover-up has been successfully accomplished with the use of: censorship, illusion, distortion, brainwashing, propaganda, misinformation, disinformation, intimidation, shaming, and domination. As Bush might say, it has been a "catastrophic success."
Taken en masse, these techniques form something like a collective hypnotic induction, which creates an illusion of consensus that cannot be challenged. Few have the insight, training, or tools to see through the manipulation. Even fewer have the courage to take on the challenge. For many, responses to domination may include disbelief, learned helplessness, psychic numbing, fear, cowardice, conformity, denial, cognitive laziness, avoidance, and submission to authority. These items are inter-related and the list is not exhaustive.
Before we get into the specific psychological explanations of these terms I have mentioned, it is necessary to acknowledge a basic factor: Widespread, overwhelming ignorance of the facts. This is a huge factor, one which is often exacerbated by, first, a lack of desire to know the facts, and, second, an avoidance of the awesome responsibility that comes with this knowledge. Of course if the facts were accurately reported in the mainstream media, the collective psychological climate would be conducive to a healthier public response.
People accept fraud for reasons both conscious and unconscious. Some of the ways that this acceptance becomes a reality are now described below.
Confusing Outcome with Process
Many people don't want to deal with the corruption of electoral processes because they believe that challenging fraud won't change the outcome. They decide that there's no point. This could very well be a self-fulfilling prophecy. It represents a kind of immature, black-and-white thinking, as the outcome is a separate issue from the process. Even if it doesn't affect the outcome, voter suppression is criminal.
Paradoxically, refusal to examine the process prevents discovery, which might change the outcome. The Ohio vote challenge required two-hour debates in the House and Senate. Most Democrats who supported the challenge, emphatically stated that they didn't expect it to change the outcome, as if they were intimidated into making that point first or they would be ridiculed and dismissed. Most Republicans ignored their actual words and made emotional, even hysterical accusations of them not accepting the outcome, being sore losers, and worse. Republicans ignored the issue of voter suppression and praised Kerry highly for not making a big deal out of this.
Numbers, Imagery, and Perceptions
People believe that Bush won by 3,500,000 votes, and that this is a margin too large to challenge. Gore in 2000 won the popular vote by only 500,000. Americans are also not aware of the long list of dirty tricks, or, knowing of one or two, don't believe they can add up to 3,500,000 miscounted votes. Of course, first, to bring the popular vote to a tie, it only has to add up to half that, 1,750,000 miscounted votes, or an average of 35,000 votes per state. Also, correcting only Ohio's fraud could change the electoral vote, which determines the true winner. People may believe subliminally that even if Ohio went to Kerry, the difference in the popular vote is too great. The reality is that the report of the Conyers Committee is probably the best single summary that we have at this time to suggest estimates of the numbers affected.
Ignorance of Extent of Dirty Tricks
If people knew about the amount and extent of dirty tricks, 3,500,000, or 1,750,000 may not seem so unsurmountable. Some of the tricks documented include:
- throwing out of Democrat voter registration forms,
- broken machines,
- misplaced machines,
- machine errors,
- reduced numbers of machines in Black and predominantly Democratic areas (less than in 2002) causing long lines,
- unmailed absentee ballots,
- absentee ballots requesting 86 cents (insufficient postage) which were returned,
- certification of more votes than registered voters in some areas,
- reversal of percentages of registered Democrats and votes for Bush in many counties,
- modem-connected voting machines and tabulators,
- different standards for provisional ballot recounts in different areas,
- many provisional ballots (called �placebo ballots�) not counted at all,
- voting machines defaulting to a Bush or 'jumping' by recording a vote for Bush when Kerry's button was pushed,
- phony companies registering voters and then tearing up the registrations of Democrats but not Republicans,
- exit polls not corresponding with reported votes in counties with no paper trail, while exit polls matched reported votes in counties with paper trails,
- voting elections officials creating what look like phony election machine poll tapes and tossing original,
- signed tabulations in the garbage,
- people posing as technicians coming in and tampering with machines,
- Republicans posing as Democrats,
- a lock down,
- officials refusing to let observers in to observe the counting of votes in a country in Ohio with the excuse of the terrorist alert,
- misinformation about the date and location of voting in Black neighborhoods,
- threats of arrest for voters with traffic tickets or any record,
- unusual discrepancies between numbers of votes for Kerry and Democratic candidates on same ticket,
- widespread refusal of media to report on any of these, and
- a media campaign trashing exit poll data with made up reasons
These are just the ones we know about.
Discomfort with Numbers
The best evidence for fraud in the 2004 election is statistical, according to Josh Mitteldorf of Temple University's Statistics Department. Many people are uncomfortable with numerical and statistical science that quantifies judgments about likelihood. For example, statistician Dr. Steve Friedman of University of Pennsylvania, an MIT graduate, found that the discrepancy between exit polls and the actual vote count in each of three states -- Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania -- is 1 in 1,000,000, but the likelihood of all three states being discrepant in the same direction is 1 in 250,000,000. What people heard in the news was a smear campaign invalidating the credibility of exit polls, even though they are actually considered highly accurate and are used in many countries as indicators of fraud. Exit polls in counties with a paper trail matched the official vote count, while in counties where there was no paper trail and evidence of computer irregularities, the official count was different than the exit polls and always favored Bush. They even made up fake reasons for this discrepancy -- response bias -- which did not exist where there were paper trails.
Many people don't believe the allegations of fraud because they didn't read about it in the New York Times or hear it on CNN. The only time the story appeared in any mainstream media as Keith Olberman's report on 'Countdown,' on MSNBC. The media censorship of this story may have been intended to promote disbelief, as well as ignorance, in the American populace.
Conformity and 'Herd Mentality'
Because of the media blackout, general ignorance, and the media's emotional tone of reporting, Americans gained a false perception of consensus about objective reality. The majority conforms to this misperception and most do not have the psychological make-up to challenge the status quo. The few that have been and are continuing courageously to address this are essentially never heard, or when mentioned severely shamed, ridiculed, and accused of causing problems. Thus, even the thought, the very notion, of questioning the received story is suppressed.
Psychologist Martin Seligman's theory of learned helplessness explains that when a person's repeated actions have no effect, he learns that his actions do not make a difference, and then he gives up, even in situations where reality is different and the person can potentially make a difference. A great number of Americans worked very hard on this election and they now believe that they lost. They are burned out. They feel all their hard work, time, energy, and money didn't help, so they don't want to deal with it. Interestingly, learned helplessness is associated with elevated levels of cortisol and depressed immune response -- suggesting it is ultimately not adaptive or healthy to give up. Conversely, taking action in the face of injustice is a sign of health, enhanced immune response, and can be an antidote to depression.
It is reasonable to fear sticking one's neck out. Challenging the powers that be is often dangerous. There thus may be legitimate reasons to fear taking individual action, yet this becomes part of the problem and rewards domination. As long as people remain silent and isolated from one another, we don't realize the safety implicit in concerted collective action. The safety in numbers can reduce fear.
Denial and Psychic Numbing
We are comforted with the belief that our leaders are good people who are protecting us. Many decent, well-meaning people believe the best about our system of government and democracy and can't believe that corruption is going on. It is frightening, unsettling, and even intolerable for many Americans to question these core beliefs about our leaders and to accept the reality of extensive fraud. Also, ignorance is bliss (at least temporary bliss), and knowledge implies responsibility.
'Denial' and 'Numbing' -- not knowing and not feeling -- protect us from this painful awareness in the present, but they cannot protect us from the real effects of these hidden realities. The truth will render us vulnerable to increasing domination and danger in the long term. If one is in an impossible situation, these habits serve as survival mechanisms to avoid the pain of awareness. However, if one can do something to make a difference, then psychic numbing and denial are maladaptive.
Submission to Authority
The notion of challenging a powerful, dominating authority with the looming prospect of failure is overwhelming. Increasing authoritarianism reinforces this dynamic in gradual, subtle ways. Some may also be afraid of challenging a president during a war and falsely believe it will harm national security.
Many feel that there is no effective action that they can personally take. It is too big for them, so they don't even seek out information or support or value the work that others are doing on their behalf.
Avoidance and Compartmentalization
People want to retreat, to focus on their own survival, family, daily life and pleasure, which are manageable. They are less focused on the scary bigger picture. This is completely understandable, if not enviable. Furthermore, those struggling with high unemployment, low wages, and other hardships created by the Bush administration are too preoccupied with their survival issues to pay attention to politics. In this way, disempowerment of certain segments of the population works to the administration's advantage.
The Spiral of Silence
I am grateful to readers of an earlier version of this article for informing me about Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann's theory, the 'Spiral of Silence,' which describes the spread of public opinion. All of the elements described above can be understood as interacting and potentiating such a spiral. Noelle-Neumann's theory investigates the ways public opinion is perceived, the ways people begin to see themselves to be in the minority, the pressures to conform, the fears of isolation, the tendency to then conceal one's views, and finally the role of the mass media in fueling this spiral.
All of these reactions are understandable, but all become part of the problem. In the short run, they may minimize pain, but in the long run they are counterproductive and serve to magnify and multiply problems that are not being faced. Such avoidance mechanisms are not adaptive, as they play into the goals of the destructive forces, allowing them to dominate. The continuation of the processes of systematic domination requires the ignorance, passivity, and complicity of the majority of decent people, including the millions who supported Kerry. These people are colluding with their own domination.
The Courageous Minority
The reactions listed above are completely natural. Carl Jung said that consciousness is a work against nature. To go against the collective tide of ignorance, conformity, and cowardice is a work against nature taken on by the courageous few. This collective, archetypal drama described by Jung was popularized by Joseph Campbell in The Hero's Journey. The Hero is the one who is willing to take on challenges that most people fear. According to Jung, the hero archetype represents the progressive force in society.
The people I have witnessed working intensely to investigate and challenge voter fraud, have a particular psychological profile. They are courageous and willing to face pain and fear. They call up their strength to challenge authority, seeing that our lives, our freedom, and our democracy depend on it. They are unable to deny what they see, or to remain silent. They are heroes in the mythical, archetypal journey, willing to face the dragons who are guarding our "National Treasure."
They are acknowledged in "Heroes," a piece by William Rivers Pitt on Truthout.org. Pitt quotes Bob Dylan: "I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom."
Only by facing the pain can we transcend it. Consciousness is the first step. Action is an antidote to depression. It would be a sign of health, freedom, and conscious evolution if more people could muster up the courage to face the painful truth of what is happening in our country and support the great work of those courageous souls investigating and exposing it. These hereos are not 'nuts' or 'conspiracy theorists,' but evolved, conscious, healthy leaders taking personal risks and sacrifices to elevate our democracy, restore our political integrity, and ultimately increase our security on the world stage. If we let them.
Some Links for Detailed Accounts of Voter Fraud
For a proper psychological understanding of suppression, it is necessary to recognize the quantity and quality of information being suppressed. The extent of fraud and ignorance of it are mind-boggling. Below are some of the stories I have compiled with detailed information.
A Guide to Ohio and New Mexico Recounts: Statistical Anomalies and Evidence of Voting Machine Malfunction and Fraud in the 2004 Presidential Election January 5, 2005
By: Audit the Vote and Help America Recount
Analysis of 2004 Election Irregularities
TV Networks Officially Refuse to Release Exit Poll Raw Data
By Gary Beckwith, The Columbus Free Press, 22 December 2004
Thom Hartmann in �Dialing for Democracy�Now Is Critical
January 3, 2005, CommonDreams.org
20 Amazing Facts About Voting in the USA
Partial list of incidents reported in the news
by Bob Fitrakis, Steve Rosenfeld and Harvey Wasserman
This article was originally published in Newtopia Magazine, April 2005.
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