3 Reasons to Care About Russian Election Interference
Let's be clear. Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election. In the states that mattered, more voters showed up for Trump than for Clinton. The question that lies beneath it all is: What information did these voters operate on?
The intelligence community released a declassified intelligence report entitled “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections." In this report, the intelligence agencies not only concluded that Russian President Vladmir Putin authorized the hacks into our political process, but also found that the hacks and document dumps were intended to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump.
Here's three reasons why this matters:
1. Cyber attacks from a foreign adversary cannot be tolerated
In his October warning to Vladmir Putin about meddling in our political process, President Obama reportedly said "International law, including the law for armed conflict, applies to actions in cyberspace."
This is serious business. The Russians are not our friends. Putin's grudge against Hillary Clinton and his opposition to Western democracies drove him to order meddling in our political process. Some will say that Trump could have won without Russian interference. We'll never know, but the U.S. must have a forceful posture against all aggressive cyber attacks and political interference, no matter how it makes President-elect Trump feel.
Today it's political hacking, but tomorrow ordinary citizens could face financial hacking or social media hacking.
2. Millions of uninformed voters are being indoctrinated with bad information
The Russians used propaganda, hacking, and document leaks to drive public support against Hillary Clinton to benefit Donald Trump. The voters most susceptible to these influence and misinformation campaigns were poorly-educated voters, elderly voters, and other conspiracy theory-prone voters. We have to confront these voters with the truth. The truth is that many of them went to the polls with ideas about both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump that were nothing more than false Russian propaganda. We will never know how this misinformation affected the vote.
There were many valid critiques against Hillary Clinton and her circle in the wake of the WikiLeaks document dumps. I think it's great that we know some of this information; however, we can't accept that foreign adversaries stole it and provided it to us. If we allow this interference once, it will only intensify in the future.
3. We still don't understand the connection between President-Elect Trump and Russia
We haven't seen Trump's tax returns. It's rumored that he has loans and business dealings with Russian oligarchs. It's unclear what contact Trump's circle has had with Russia. For these reasons and more, we haven't even scratched the surface on the reasons for Trump's bromance with Russia's Vladmir Putin.
I doubt that Trump was born abroad and came to the U.S. as some illegal foreign candidate like he claimed President Obama pulled off. But it is suspicious how much Trump praises Russia's leader and how much he accepts the word of Russia over our intelligence community. So, is he being blackmailed? Is he falling for an old Soviet-style psychological game? What does Putin really want from Trump? Why does Trump accept the word of Putin and WikiLeaks over the U.S. intelligence community? These are questions that need answers. I predict that many history books will be written about this time in our national and political life and Russia will be a common theme in all of them.
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