“One might better think of ours as a dual political system. First, there is the symbolic political system centered around electoral and representative activities including party conflicts, voter turnout, political personalities, public pronouncements, official role-playing and certain ambiguous presentations of some of the public issues which bestir Presidents, governors, mayors and their respective legislatures. Then there is the substantive political system, involving multi-billion dollar contracts, tax write-offs, protections, rebates, grants, loss compensations, subsidies, leases, giveaways and the whole vast process of budgeting, legislating, advising, regulating, protecting and servicing major producer interest – now bending or ignoring the law on behalf of the powerful, now applying it with the full punitive vigor against heretics and “troublemakers.” The symbolic system is highly visible, taught in schools, discussed by academicians, gossiped about by newsmen. The substantive system is seldom heard of or accounted for.”
– Michael Parenti
in How Democratic Is The Government?
(as cited in Joel Dyer, Harvest of Rage)