There's no difference between modern western politics and autocratic regimes such as monarchy or even dictatorships.
From which I can only conclude that you know very little of dictatorships, or of democracy.
Major parties will tend to cluster around the centre in their country's political spectrum. This isn't due to some exciting "conspiracy" by "The Man", it's simply due to the fact that most people in most modern western nations don't want their countries to change too much too quickly. (For obvious reasons - times of rapid change tend to be stressful and difficult, and most people have more than enough stress and difficulty in their personal lives without the government adding more.)
Roughly speaking, if most people want no more than C amount of change in a governmental term, then any party which positions itself outside the interval [-C,+C] (centre=0) is inherently saying that it does not intend to reflect the will of the majority, and consequently will not be considered a major party.
It's not a conspiracy; it's just social dynamics.
without the vastly dumbed down population being any the wiser
I have yet to see any reference to "the dumbed down population" or "the sheeple" be anything other than a straw man used to bolster a crackpot argument.
Perhaps you'd like to offer some data to support the notion that today's population is "dumbed down"? In particular, you may wish to focus on demonstrating that today's population is more compliant than the population of McCarthy's era, or the population which would forcibly and repeatedly shock a screaming man at the request of an authority figure.
To the best of my knowledge, there's no evidence today's population is any more dumbed down than the populations of every other generation. Feel free to provide evidence to the contrary; note, however, that "why, when I was a boy..." does not constitute evidence.
all this reporting on online attacks by the Chinese is an example of the media reporting bias.
Or attentional biases on your part - this is the first media report which mentions it that I've seen in quite some time, and it's not actually a report on Chinese hacking, but rather a report on the current activities of the US government.
Not, of course, that seeing vastly more reporting on China-vs-US hacks than US-vs-China hacks should be at all surprising, since
- (a) information is much more available in the US, so news media is simply more likely to hear about an event,
- (b) information in the US is predominantly in English, so those of us reading in English are much more likely to hear of it,
- (c) the US is either the country of or a treaty ally of most readers of English-language news media, and attacks on entities we are legally obligated to defend are naturally of rather more interest than attacks on other entities,
- (d) the US is militarily more technologically advanced than China, meaning that China has vastly more to gain from this kind of espionage.
And so on. The simple fact of the matter is that we're more likely to hear of a Chinese hack on the US for a great many reasons which have nothing to do with any purported "media bias". Such a bias may or may not exist, but it's a sign of intellectual laziness and/or dishonesty to simply invoke "teh MSM iz bias!1!" rather than actually thinking about the underlying factors.
Not that intellectual laziness and dishonesty is surprising to find in an argument equating democracy with dictatorship.