Investigative reporting by this newspaper has uncovered a startling situation, one that has been unfolding in secret for years.
The first hint was the result of one of our reporters interviewing newly elected Representative I. M. Grate. When asked how his children were enjoying living part of the year in the capital city, he replied, “Thank you very much. It’s important that our businesses receive all the help they can.”
This response confused the reporter and prompted her to ask if he was saying his children loved to shop. Representative Grate said, “Capitalism is the only economic system shown to work for the benefit of all.”
At that point our newsroom assembled a team of seasoned journalists to speak to the House legislative leaders of both parties, Republican Representative Ida Rather Knot and Democrat Representative Owen Moore.
We asked them about the strange statements given by Representative Grate, expressing concern that perhaps he was confused and needed assistance.
The reaction by both was immediate and emphatic. “Nothing to worry about,” they said. “He is new to the legislature, has had a relatively easy election, and is not used to the interview process.”
This explanation made no sense. What politician is uncomfortable in public, especially when receiving media attention? Under continuing pressure from our team, Representative Moore finally said, “I think we’re going to have to tell them, Ida.”
Representative Knot shot him a dirty look, then nodded and said, “We’d better check with the Senate leaders first.” They asked us to return in an hour. We waited in an empty room and wondered what was going on.
When we reconvened, Representative Knot said she and Representative Moore would tell us the full story, but we couldn’t print it. We declined to accept those terms and assured her we would keep digging if no explanation was forthcoming.
They both shrugged, probably having anticipated the response.
Representative Moore began. “For at least the past 20 years the divisions in our state and country have become progressively stronger. Gerrymandering, even after court required changes, is rampant and few seats are competitive.”
Representative Knot inserted, “This means that, on any important bill, both parties vote along strictly controlled party lines in the way we leaders determine. So 12 years ago some of us, Republican and Democrat, got together and wondered why we even bothered to have a legislature.”
Moore said, “Of course, we had no choice because it’s in the constitution. If we made changes, it had to look like we were carrying out the process as normal. But the outcome of votes was foreordained well before any legislative action. All the other procedures: a lengthy questioning process in several committees, public input, floor debate, and finally a vote, were just for show.”
Then Knot reflected Moore’s comment. “And, of course, all that fluff made no difference. Everyone knew what the final vote would be. It’s like the legislators were acting like robots, following a strict predetermined program.
“As a result of this realization, we decided we could get rid of the humans altogether and replace them by actual robots. We figured no one would notice. The legislative leaders made the change 10 years ago. As a result, huge savings on salaries, office supplies, and staff have occurred.”
Moore took up the story. “It’s cost efficient. The same robot can be used over and over. We simply dress it in different clothes, mold a different face and throw a switch that turns it into a Republican or a Democrat. From then on its actions are determined, until the switch is thrown the other way as needed. The robot campaigns, gets elected, and serves in the legislature. Sometimes an electron goes astray and a robot votes the wrong way or, as was the case with ‘Representative’ Grate, there is a malfunction. Now corrected by the way. For the most part the system works fine.”
Impossible, you say? Now be honest. Check out the legislature and examine how it works. And how it votes. Can you really tell any difference between what you think is going on and how the legislature would function if robots had taken over?