From Nezavisimaya gazeta, Aug. 27, 2020, p. 6. Complete text:

Amid daily news reports about how the presidential election in Belarus went and ended (if it has in fact ended) [see Vol. 72, No. 33, pp. 3‑7], and as dozens of other countries are preparing to hold elections this fall, very curious events are unfolding in the US. A two-candidate presidential race is in full swing there that is not only shocking even seasoned experts (both in America and elsewhere) on account of its nastiness, blatant deceit and mutual animosity, but is, in my opinion, destroying for years to come the very meaning of elections as far as basic human decency is concerned.

In the past, it has been customary to consider US presidential elections a paragon of democracy, freedom of speech and other things that supposedly do not exist in any other country. At the same time, American political elites (and it is these people who hold such elections for themselves, not the American people, no matter how hard the elites try to get people to believe the opposite) are trying to make it seem like this is what real democratic presidential elections should look like.

But when you look at what this election has turned into, you can’t help but wonder: Do elections like this need to be held at all? And does it make any sense to even minimally criticize the Belarussian presidential election or the vote on the Russian constitutional amendments [see Vol. 72, No. 27‑28, pp. 3‑7] when all [these votes] are essentially held for entirely different purposes and invariably bring entirely different results than they are supposed to?

So do Americans have any choice in the upcoming presidential election? Not really, because both candidates have been chosen by the country’s political elites, not the people. For the first time in US history, the incumbent president has throughout his term in office been subjected to not just the wildest obstruction by his adversaries (primarily the leadership of the rival party), but also made out to be the devil incarnate by all American “free media” outlets (recall that of the 186 largest media outlets in the US, only five didn’t totally eviscerate Donald Trump in the previous [2016] election campaign).

During the current campaign, Trump is being blamed for all of America’s ills and woes – from racism and unemployment to the mysterious [COVID-19] virus epidemic, the shortage of personal protective equipment and ventilators, and the hurricanes bearing down on the southern states (ostensibly because he withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement [see Vol. 69, No. 22, pp. 18‑19]). TV, radio, newspapers and magazines these days are teeming with anti-Trump articles and reporting.

Not surprisingly, polls conducted by Democrat-controlled media and polling services predict that [Democratic presidential candidate] Joe Biden will win by a landslide in November. And the publications of memoirs like the ones penned by Trump’s sister [sic; niece] and former national security adviser John Bolton testify to only one thing: How could almost half of American voters elect such a toxic figure in 2016 and put up with him in the White House for so long?

I will add here the attempt to remove Trump from office by linking him to a Russian and Ukrainian conspiracy, and to “expose” his and his closest relatives’ businesses. And of course, any steps the president takes to build a wall on the border with Mexico or revise the fundamentals of the health care system put in place by his Democratic predecessor are subjected to such blistering criticism that anyone else in Trump’s shoes would have resigned long ago (which is basically what his opponents have been after all these years).

It has become common to call the upcoming election all but historic, because its outcome will supposedly determine the future of not only America, but the whole world. But I think that such assessments are overblown. Nothing in the US will change, because the social system itself remains intact. The same people will remain in power regardless (even though they periodically swap positions and offices in Washington, nothing changes in the country – just read Bolton’s memoir).

Based on the list of America’s current foreign policy architects, relations with Russia will only deteriorate no matter who is in office: Trump or his rival. This list features the same “Russia specialists” who hold static views on where the US and “China’s lackey” Russia fit in the world. The [view] is always the same: The more unstable the situation in the post-Soviet space, the worse it will be for Russia and the more profitable for any American administration.

Do Americans understand that they won’t have any choice in the fall? And will other countries, including those that are so gung-ho about democracy and progress, continue to follow America’s electoral blueprint? Most likely, no matter who wins the November election, the US will for the foreseeable future still retain what remains of its appeal as a kind of refuge ([its] coronavirus infection rates notwithstanding) for those from countries where democracy and future prospects are in an even more deplorable state than in America.

Because even though the country has no choice this fall, polls show that more than 80% of the US population have no interest in politics. What concerns them is not who will be in the White House next year but when the pandemic will be over, and when they will be able to go back to working like the dickens just to cover their constantly rising living expenses. And the presidential election, however democratic it may appear, will have no impact whatsoever on their future or personal welfare.