Thimblerig and the Elections

Ivan Davydov speaks of Russian elections on the example of gambling
12.01.2018
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The fuss around the elections desperately resembles the vibe markets in the nineties were famous for. No, not those places that are called markets these days, for example, in the capital – where expensively dressed people lined up for soup of pho bo, where shop windows shine, and shop assistants have beautiful uniform robes on. I’m talking about real, terrible markets, labyrinths of stalls and counters, impenetrable thickets of Chinese stuff, noise, unpleasant odors, or, more simply, stink, jostling, sketchy individuals, and instead of pho soup one sees bus-sized ladies with trolley bags: “Tea , tea, tea, hot pies!”

And somewhere in the corner – it is a necessary part of such an environment – there would be a box placed upside down, and on this box, instead of thimbles, there would be three plastic cup, also upside down. A man with a scary face wearing an equally scary leather jacket (there were those special ones, red and crunchy), spins the cups and shouts vehemently: “Babooshka Alyona died, bequeathed three millions!” And soon, those fussing around push the perplexed gaper closer and closer to the box and cups – “Come on, play, brother, look, he's a fool, we all can see, where the ball is!”

However, in fact, there’s only one fool here – the random onlooker, who begins to slowly believe in his lucky star, and about 90% of those people flocking around him are the thimblerigger’s accomplices. The gaper, of course, understands that he will be deceived by all means, but he still falls for money. And the people around him notice, in which pocket he has his wallet – not a thick one, but a thief’s luck is not picky.

But one should be cautious with any analogy. It's not about the fact that someone is going to steal votes from you (us) in the upcoming elections. Strictly speaking, everything has been stolen long ago thanks to the repressive legislation, the propaganda machine that has been built for years, thanks to the system of vote rigging, which is not very well organized in the large cities of the European part of Russia, but it does not matter, because it works perfectly in regions which political scientist Dmitry Oreshkin aptly called “electoral sultanates.” It seems to the player that he makes a choice, but, in reality, the choice is made by the thimblerigger, and, moreover, the choice has already been made.

This is a fact that we just have to accept – during the elections of 2018, the situation will not change fundamentally, and that means that the very fact of participation in elections is no more than a way to express sympathy for one of the candidates.

Let's say you have no sympathy for anyone. Well, then our analogy can be applied directly and quite clearly. Candidates are precisely those accomplices who are thronging around the thimblerigger, convincing the passerby that he caught a bird of happiness by the tail, and the cup in front of him are in the hands of a complete loser. One second of silence would be enough to ponder on the fact that the candidate “none of the above” cannon have a surname and political program. If he has, then, he is not against everyone, he is for himself. So, he’s lying. A person cannot simultaneously support the program of the Communist Party and be rolling in millions trading sweet berries. Well, it’s either he has never read the program, and blushed not because of the convictions, but from eating too much, for instance. And such a natural disaster called politely in Russia Vladimir Zhirinovsky is absolutely impossible in places where the word “politics” means at least something to people. And so on – this line is easy to continue, especially since the only truly mysterious candidate, Tristan Prisyagin, is excluded from the election. And who the thimblerigger is we all know for sure. The one who wins is the thimblerigger. He always wins, that’s how the game works. By the way, in the nineties, those guys were, nevertheless, more honorable. They were shouting: “Spinning, twisting, deceiving!” They didn’t want to pretend to be independent candidates, they didn’t put up a fuss, they saved pains - both theirs and ours.

Let's consider another option: you candidly bleed for one of the candidates. Well, the analogy is still there, the only thing that changes is how we interpret it. The accomplices of the thimblerigger in this case are people who convince you not to vote, and come up with a variety of complex justifications for this. Do not listen to them. Your beliefs are worthy of respect. Contrary to the longstanding efforts of the state propaganda, which is intensively cultivates the habit of hatred in Russians, the society becomes a bit more tolerant every year. It's already not cool to laugh at someone’s oddities, at least out loud. Well, you support Putin, Sobchak or Grigory Alekseevich Yavlinsky – so go and cast your vote to your candidate. This, as intelligent people say, is not a disease, but a variant of the norm. Not our fault, and it does not matter, but it is a fad. If the person in front of the box believes that the game of thimbles is played according to the rules, and the chances are the same for everyone, well, the only consolation would be if he did it voluntarily.

But the main thing in this game is not to become a thimblerigger yourself. If there are no sympathies, then do not try to find an excuse to express the missing sympathy. There is no need to invent reasons to vote for the candidate X, allegedly demonstrating how many people in the country do not agree with the policy of the party and government. There are not so many people, the only thing one would be able to demonstrate this way is their own limited mental abilities, but it would work well for the turnout after all. You do not have to vote for the candidate Y, because he has a chance for a second round and a magnificent mustache. The second round is not happening, and the curly mustache is just ridiculous. No further amendments to the list. You do not need it.

Somehow, it's funny and a bit embarrassing – to start another game of thimbles with yourself, when there are already full of people around you who want to deceive you.

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