The elections were approaching and in the town bar there was barely room to talk about anything else. Even soccer, which monopolized the conversations between those four walls, had gone into the background. With the campaign already in its final stretch, everyone was clear for whom, or rather, who they would not vote for. Pronouncing at the polls, more than to endorse good management, served to lean towards the least bad party. “They are all thieves, but some steal less than others”, they used to argue. The Candidate Hope was his hope.
Perhaps the inhabitants of that distant town were nothing but an unfortunate, but faithful reflection, of the mediocre political class that they placed at the head of the institutions. Was it fair to demand from others what they lacked? Did citizens without honesty claim to have honest representatives?
Every four years the same frustration occurred over and over again, they did not understand why someone had not just appeared who, apart from repeating what they wanted to hear, would be the whip of corruption and corrupts. They longed for a shiny new car, but they would have to settle for the same old, grimy old car, whose body, yes, changed color after the elections. And sometimes not even that.
Suddenly, those already hypnotized before the television made an effort to abandon their hypnagogic state, while the rest turned towards it like a spring. A talking head announced unexpected breaking news.
"The candidate of the PDR, Party for Democratic Regeneration, whom all the polls place as the only one capable of breaking the alternation in power between conservatives and liberals during the last decades, has announced that he is leaving the political scene. His decision has been made known during the rally that he gave this afternoon before thousands of supporters in the capital's Dupes Square. The Candidate Hope began his concise speech with some enigmatic words, in which... I think our colleagues are now in a position to offer us the first images..."
All eyes were on the Candidate Hope:
"Neither me nor the party I represent can ever regenerate something that does not exist. We are nothing but aspiring to participate in the degenerate oligarchy of parties, that disguised democracy in which we live".
The newscast would also show the first reactions of the rival candidates to the unexpected resignation of their colleague.
Mike and Ted were sitting, as usual, on stools by the bar. They ordered a couple of beers.
- Mike, but what nonsense is this about the Candidate Hope throwing in the towel because there has never been a democracy here? But what the hell is this anarchy, orgy of parties?
- Oligarchy, he has said oligarchy of parties, Ted. Anyways, the term orgy is not bad either.
- He is an asshole, he was our only hope! Oligarchy of parties...
- Do you know what it is?
Annoyed by the question, Ted stared at Mike but said nothing. As a result of a deep-rooted inferiority complex in most of its people, in that town the ignorance was synonymous with humiliation; it was not necessary to be a luminary, just to know a little bit more than your neighbor was enough to automatically become a conceited intellectual abuser. But Ted's desire for knowledge, repressed in order to not point himself out, surfaced when he talked to his friend Mike. Ted was different. Mike knew it. Even Ted himself, inside of him, was aware of it.
- Look Ted, in a democracy, the people are sovereign. However, the sovereignty of our people has been usurped by political parties. Democracy means 'the power of the people', while oligarchy means 'the power of a few'. Those few, specifically two parties, have been dividing power alternately after establishing a perverse system in which there is no representation of the voters or separation of powers, the two pillars of democracy. So that both parties, which are actually the same, can commit their misdeeds without raising too many suspicions, they have taken separation of functions out of their sleeve, as well as voting every four years. But therein lies the deception, the scam. There is no separation of powers or representation of the voters. They have performed a magic trick on us, and the audience, both perplexed and euphoric, applauds enthusiastically, dazzled by the brilliant staging. With the approving applause, and even the praise, the illusionist knows that all has gone well. With the complicity of the public, the scam has been successfully carried out.
Ted remained silent. Turning to the bar counter, he finished his beer and ordered a whiskey. Everyone in the bar was commenting and arguing about the Candidate Hope's unexpected resignation. Hardly anyone in the bar seemed to understand the Candidate Hope's message; although ignorance was enough to judge him, and why not also, to sentence and condemn him.
After a few drinks, and despite the mess installed in his head, Ted seemed not to have lost interest in continuing his conversation with Mike.
- Well, Mike, you know that our Mayor says that he represents us, that he represents all the neighbors, that he is a representative of the people and for the people. That it is the people who have placed him there.
-Look Ted, who has really placed his heavy ass on the Mayor's chair, it's been neither you nor me nor anyone from this town. It's been his party leader.
Ted looked at Mike strangely, waiting for him to give more details.
- Let's see Ted, who makes the party lists for the election?
- I guess those who rule the party, Mike...
- All right, Ted. Let's keep going. If the heads of the parties, and not the citizens, are who decide who appear and who does not appear on the lists... with whom does the elected representatives really commit? With the ones who did placed them on the lists or with the citizens who voted for them?
Lighting up his face, Ted grabbed Mike's forearm hardly.
- I think I got it. When I vote for a party, I am voting for a list of candidates prepared by the leaders of that party. Those who are elected show that their commitment is with their voters, but to whom they really owe is to their bosses. Despite voting for them, instead of representing me, they will be representing those who run the party.
- Bingo. We continue. If a system, in order to be democratic, requires the two fundamental pillars, the separation of powers and the representation of the voters, you, by yourself, have just realized that the latter does not match. Correct?
- That's right, Mike. Now, on the other pillar, the separation of powers, it seems that power is already perfectly divided. We have local, provincial, regional and state powers.
- Dear Ted, what you are talking about has to do with the delegation of the state powers. The separation of powers does not refer to that, but to the fact that the Judicial and Executive powers must be separated at its starting point, they must be independent. In our nation, the Judiciary is dependent on the Executive. It is not the judges who choose their own body of power, but the political parties; yes, you heard right, it is the parties that appoint the judges. Then, how to have an independent Justice that way? Therefore, there is no separation of powers either.
What Mike was transmitting to his friend would never echo in the official media. Nor it would be talked about in universities and large debate forums. Reality had to remain manipulated, and for that it was necessary to keep the truth away from the masses, which was efficiently handled by the educational system and the media. Those who, like Mike, dared to approach to the truth and thought for themselves, the system had social exclusion as a punishment mechanism; they were considered a kind of black sheep, cleverly labeled as anti-establishment, social misfits, and other similar terms.
"You don't want to make any promises, Mr. Kane, you don't want to keep..."
What Mike was trying to explain to Ted was no secret, and it was within the intellectual reach of anyone who was willing to pay a little attention. It was something that had always been there, for everyone to see. Why that permanent citizen feeling of distance with its politicians? Perhaps because they did not feel represented by them? Why that permanent citizen frustration with the judicial apparatus when dealing with corruption in high spheres? Was it because they were aware that whoever chose the judges could influence them? They knew that they lived in a rotten system, but they continued to support it and renew it every four years at the polls.
- So what are we voting for, Mike?
- That question, my dear friend, you have to answer it by yourself.
- Without representation of the voters and without separation of powers, there is no democracy, right, Mike?
- So, how is it possible that our system is not democratic, and both me and you, like the rest of the citizens of this nation, can express ourselves freely, saying what we want to say at any moment?
- Indeed, in our oligarchy of parties there is the right to freedom of expression and freedom of press, the right of assembly and of association, the right to strike, etc. But, beware, these are individual rights and granted, they do not come from the collective freedom. Democracy arises from collective freedom and that freedom must be conquered. The participation of the United States in II World War would be decisive in getting European nations rid of Nazism. Perhaps that is why in Europe, where freedom was made possible thanks to the intervention of a power from another continent, a truly democratic consciousness has never taken root. You just have to look at the current political systems throughout its geography: none of them has the two basic principles of democracy, representation and the separation of powers. The ones that come closest are France and the United Kingdom.
- I don't know what to say Mike, but I feel like that son who, after many years believing otherwise, one day finds out that he is adopted.
- The truth is hard, Ted, certainly uncomfortable, but thanks to it you will gradually begin to feel free and exercise your freedom. You will start to wake up, and you will probably doubt, feel strange and want to return to the state of torpor in which you think you feel most comfortable and happy. But I assure you that once the true feeling of being really free ignites inside you, there will be no going back; you will become the conqueror of your freedom, the one that has been usurped from you and no one can ever take away from you.
Ted was confused. He thought that maybe a double whiskey, or better yet triple, would alleviate the strange sensation that ran through his body from head to toe. He realized that they were televising a football game, which almost all the eyes of the bar's inhabitants were directed to. Yes, inhabitants, because many of them spent more hours there than in their own homes, than in their jobs; Even for some, their daily work consisted precisely in being at the bar from opening to closing.
- And what can we do, Mike? I mean, what can we do to bring about true democracy in our nation?
- The first step: not going to vote. Yes, I know that the system has been very good at labeling those who don't vote as lazy, as people who don't care about anything.
"You will see what you do, but if you don't vote, then don't complain. In order to express your view, you first have to vote."
Why would we want to express ourselves at the polls if the result is rigged beforehand? Instead, a big abstention, as never seen it before, would be equivalent to tell them right under their noses that we reject the system they have imposed on us; it would delegitimize, break the system. The next step, what should have been done and it shouldn't decades ago, when the Transition from the old to the current regime took place: democratic rupture. It is necessary to break with the previous regime. In our nation, there was not a rupture with the previous regime, but rather a reform of it was agreed upon. After the democratic rupture, a constituent period must be opened, where the people, duly represented, draw up a true Constitution -the current one is a dead letter-, where the democratic pillars of the system are explicitly, clearly and unambiguously stated. Democracy is born from collective political freedom. The oligarchy of parties is born from consensus among corrupt individuals. Democracy is exposed to corruption. The oligarchy of parties is born from corruption.
Taking advantage of the break from the soccer game, the news broke again on the television screen to repeat the same thing about the resignation of the PDR candidate. Mike and Ted downed the last drink and left. The rest, completely oblivious to their conversation, completely oblivious to all reality, continued to do what they used to do. Sometimes they even seemed to be happy and satisfied with their lives; maybe they really were.
"I made no campaign promises, because until a few weeks ago I had no hope of being elected. Now, however, I have something more than a hope... Well, I would make my promises now if I weren't too busy arranging to keep them...."
Last Minute Note on the Candidate Hope: We may never know the real reasons that led the Candidate Hope to resign. Did he realize that he could not bring to the electors a message of false hope, once the true one had already been stolen from their hearts a long time ago?
[This story is dedicated to the memory of the master thinker Antonio García-Trevijano 'Maverick'.]