My column for the West Bend Daily News is online. Here you go:
Years after President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hit the “reset” button with Russia, the Bear has rampaged through the United States’ presidential election. Or has it?
The claim being made by the Democrats and President Obama is that the Russians directly intervened in our presidential election in favor of Donald Trump by supporting hackers who perpetrated the damaging DNC hacks and perhaps even hacking various election machines. The problem with that claim is that there is very little evidence to support it and the reasoning behind it is irrevocably flawed.
As evidence, the Democrats offer the fact that the vile people at Wikileaks divulged mountains of emails from the DNC and Clinton lackey John Podesta that proved very damaging to the Clinton campaign while not doing the same against Trump. They also claim that Russia supported Wikileaks in this endeavor, which Wikileaks denies. The Democrats conveniently overlook the fact that the damaging information about Clinton corruption was true, which is why it was damaging. If the lack of balance in attacks is evidence of election tampering, then the entire American media should be on trial after their rabid support of Clinton in this election cycle.
The Democrats also cite leaks (ironic, no?) and comments from the CIA accusing Russia of tampering with the election. But the CIA will not publically divulge any of their evidence, will not brief Congress and will not go on the record with their accusations. The real travesty is that after eight years of Obama radically politicizing every federal agency he needed to like the FBI, IRS, ICE, DOJ, EPA, etc., nobody can believe the CIA at face value anymore. Given the history of this administration, it is not only possible, but probable, that the CIA is being used for the political agenda of the Democratic Party.
Taking a step back from the specific allegations, one must evaluate what might be really going on through the haze of disinformation. Is Russia trying to hack our election and, if so, to what end?
Simple logic would lead one to conclude that Russia is undoubtedly trying to influence our elections. For the last 10 years or more, Russia has been actively trying to regain the power they once had as the Soviet Union. They have acted without conscience, morals or reserve. This is the same nation that invaded Ukraine, blew a civilian jet out of the sky, supports Syria, traded nuclear material to Iran and much more. They also have a recent history of actively meddling in the elections and politics of smaller nations in order to destabilize them for Russia’s advantage.
If we concede that Russia would not have any scruples about subverting America’s election and that they have some means to do so, then we must only ask if it is in their interests to do so. The answer is probably yes, but not to sway the election one way or the other. Rather, to delegitimize the process and subsequent administration. An American government that has the appearance of illegitimacy and an American public that has lost its confidence in our electoral process is a powerful ally in Russia’s campaign to gain world supremacy.
While it is reasonable to conclude that Russia did try to interfere with our election, it is also reasonable to conclude that they were unsuccessful in determining the outcome, but that was likely not their objective. The Russians want a weaker America irrespective of who the president is. In any case, given Russia’s rapid rise under the feckless foreign policy of President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton, it is difficult to fathom why they would have tried to act on behalf of Trump anyway.
Strangely, we are at the point that the goals of the Democratic Party and Russia are in alignment. The Democrats are seizing on the possibility of Russian meddling as a way to delegitimize Trump’s administration. Having lost the presidency and the Congress, the Democrats want to weaken Trump in order to advance their domestic political agenda. In particular, President Obama, who is famously cool about everything from Syrian genocide to crushing regulations, has been animated over this issue. The Russians also want a weak American government and are encouraging the discord.
What are we to do about all of this? First, we must diligently and vigorously investigate if and how any foreign power might have attempted to undermine our election. When the investigation is complete and the evidence known, then we can make educated policy decisions about how to respond.
Second, we must recognize that one of the greatest bulwarks against any successful hacking of our election is the decentralized way we conduct elections. It is infinitely more difficult to hack an election in which different states, counties, and precincts use different methodologies, machines, etc. than it is to hack a centralized, integrated election. Measures that centralize and automate our electoral process are convenient, but they increase the risk of fraud.
Third, we must do what Americans have done since President John Adams was sworn into office and support a peaceful transition of presidential power. President Trump was legitimately elected by the American people and serves by the consent of the governed. Period.