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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Politics is One Big Television Game Show

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Common sense has found a new address!" These words really caught my attention, especially coming from a television ad. For one, I was surprised to learn that common sense has a concrete address. It would be great if it could actually be found there.

Second, and more important, is that common sense recently moved. Apparently, it had been residing at a different address, but can no longer be found there.

Listening to the rest of the commercial, I learned that common sense is now located at a home electronics store -- and evidently nowhere else.

There are some real problems with common sense in Russia today. Of course, this problem did not appear overnight. It has been with us for some time, but of late it has become painfully noticeable. With every attempt to get a deeper understanding of the claims of boastful politicians or to analyze the substance of the various party congresses held around the country, it is obvious that common sense cannot be found in any of these places.

"Can you tell me where President Vladimir Putin will go to work after the end of his presidential term?" a woman asked me recently. No, it wasn't a neighbor trying to grab the latest gossip; it was a journalist from a well-known publication.

"I have no idea!" I said. "Why are asking me about it?"

"You're the political expert!" she responded.

So this is what political analysis has come to. Is this why I wrote my doctoral dissertation, to field these kinds of questions?

"Ask Lyudmila Putina! She must know the answer!" I shouted, and threw down the receiver.

Yes, I was impolite, but it wasn't the journalist's fault. I just don't have enough patience for these kinds of things. I don't know what is going on with me. I have always been able to hold my composure in these types of circumstances. Until recently.

There are many political analysts who adore focusing on this sphere: Who went to work where, who was relocated to which post, with whom and against whom will he now weave his intrigues, and so on. Turn on any political television program and you will see this clearly. But I know that you will never do this because you would much rather watch the reality show "Dom 2" or the game show "Intuitsia." I also like "Intuitsia," where you try to guess whether the close-lipped person on center stage is a millionaire or a lesbian.

There is also a popular show where you can vote by text message for your favorite amateur singer who may one day become a big star. None of them has any talent, though.

Why am I so angry about all of this? Because the political games in Russia are quite similar to these television shows. In reality, they are much worse. The only difference is that television performers must be attractive. Although politicians are often not much to look at, at least we can be thankful that they don't try to sing and dance.

The television schedule unfolding before us has been thoroughly scripted straight through to the presidential election in March. Nonetheless, there are sure to be occasional surprises, although they have been planned in advance.

The voters can solve this problem by unplugging their televisions in early October and stowing them away for safekeeping. In March, they can pull them out again and learn who won the game. And if, for some reason, your television has stopped working by then, do not fret. The information won't be hard to obtain. We will be bombarded with news from every possible source.

The only thing stopping me from chucking out my television right now is that I don't want to disappoint my daughter, who likes watching cartoons every day.

Boris Kagarlitsky is the director of the Institute of Globalization Studies.