One way to look at it is that the decicion is made in advance by the Materese Circle at Davos. Call it the Council or Foreign Relations or call the CFR just the think tank of the globalist elite. Elections are only superbowls, dancing stars, and family feuds to entertain the masses. "Goin' to the candidates debate. Laugh about it, shout about it. When you have to choose, anyway you look at it you lose." -- Simon & Garfunkel "Mrs. Robinson." (1968). Or maybe the ruling class is not all of one mind and some factions win over others. That would explain why Hillary Clinton was devasted by her loss in 2016. She expected to win and someone (singular or plural) pulled the strings, put in a deal, made a promise, and Donald Trump got in.
Myself, I registered as a Democrat and voted for Bernie Sanders against Hillary Clinton. I did not vote for Donald Trump, but I was hoping that he would win over Clinton because I saw her as a warhawk against Vladimir Putin. I thought that she would confront him over the Ukraine and Syria. I expected that Donald Trump's economic ties to Russia, would make him less belicose and less likely to engage in brinksmanship. I did not expect Donald Trump to be what he became: one of a gang of nationalists such as Viktor Orban, Narendra Modi, and Recep Erdogan engaged in Balkanization of the planet and hate wars against convenient minorities.
And, apparently, some factions of the Democrat Party were indeed invested in the Ukraine.
I vote. I really pay attention to the most local of elections, especially primaries. Your vote matters there. The inverse square law says that the farther you look away from home, the less you know. One of my hobbies is astronomy. This weekend, I looked at Ptolemy's Nebula, M7 in Scorpio. It is a pretty group of stars. That is about all I know. On the other hand, I can name all of the ingredients that my wife is going to put in the salad right now. So, I vote all the time, but I do not pretend that my vote matters at the national level.
As for ARI and your Watch, I just sent them $300. They do enough good just sending out books and running essay contests. I don't care about Carl Barney one way or the other.