Light Rail, before The Voice intruded.
Light Rail, before The Voice intruded.

What is utterly boggling to the mind is how anyone at Sound Transit could authorize the use of that stentorian (or better yet, barking) male announcer at Link Light Rail stations. But then again, many of us are also puzzled about how millions of Americans who are apparently literate (meaning, received some form of education) see a president in a man like Donald Trump. But there is a possible connection to be made here. According to KUOW, Sound Transit decided this voice, this sternness, this masculine barking would make things clearer to riders during Link's grueling 10-week interruption of normal services on its thus far completed line. And the fact that Sound Transit determined that such a voice is attention-grabbing and confusion-clearing, explains in part the appeal of Trump and why he has spent much of his presidency making despotic speeches at rallies. What authoritarian announcements and speakers produce is the fiction of clarity.

But there is more to this awful voice, which reverberates with fascistic madness in the echoic subway station on Beacon Hill. It represents once again how Sound Transit does not understand its mission. It has yet to grasp the world-historical importance of leading citizens out of cars and into public modes of transportation. It views the system as just a machine, or a regular option for urban mobility. Car dealers and manufacturers, on the other hand, have no such illusions. They see their situation as a kind of battle in heaven, a struggle between supernatural forces.

The car industry, which pours billions annually into all forms of social engineering, knows it must fight for and win over souls. For them, the car is not a mere machine. It is a temple to the individual. You must make people believe in it, no matter what it actually does, or how much it makes life in the city miserable—with all kinds of pollution (air, noise, temporal), and all kinds of body-breaking accidents.

Support The Stranger

And the car industry has the resources to win souls, and it has a massive section of the energy sector as a dependable denomination. Turn on the TV, and you will not find one ad for a bus or a train or bikes or pedestrians. All there is to see: a stream of images of the car as nothing less than heaven on earth. None of these ads are realistic. They do not contain a single traffic jam. No one looks for parking, which in a city usually takes forever. And the enormous expense of maintaining a machine the spends much of its time not moving is never mentioned. But the car industry does not want people or bodies or the tons of industrial materials packed in their products (that is a problem for the city or the various departments of transportation). Their advertisements are all about souls, which are so free and said to weigh only 21 grams.

Let's return to Sound Transit and its new and awful authoritarian announcer. Is there another way it could deal with the public during a difficult period? A way that is not Trumpian? Maybe we, as US citizens, should turn, once again, to Canada for inspiration...

Or, if you're maple-phobic, see New York City: