Russians Hacked an Unfair System?
The NY Times ("The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the U.S.") placed alleged Russian electoral hacking in the context of the Watergate scandal. I see the Cuban Missile Crisis as more relevant. We should first get honest about how politics really works in this country.
Every US presidential candidate is expected to believe that the US is exempt from the rules otherwise governing behavior between nations. Some aspect of history, our power, or the favor of God entitles us to subject other nations to aggressive and self-interested meddling. When other nations behave similarly, this is totally unacceptable, even called an act of war.
The Cuban Missile Crisis only became a crisis because Russia believed they had the same rights as us. Russia tolerated the US placing nuclear missiles near their border in Turkey, but the US would not then tolerate Russian nukes in Cuba. From the values we instill in every first-grader, they would recognize this scenario as totally unfair. Respected adults are behaving worse than children when they try to justify unfairness. Obama is now building new nuclear weapons in violation of US commitments under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and Trump is urging US allies to develop their own nuclear weapons.
The integrity of the US electoral process is indeed in jeopardy, but fraud and foreign meddling are far from the biggest factors. Allowing the wealthy to dominate the funding of political campaigns, partisan re-districting, racist disenfranchisement, and the elimination of a paper-trail from voting machines are much bigger threats to democracy. While most commentators and officials require no clear proof to accept that the Russian government intervened in our presidential election at all, many are quick to imply that this is an unprecedented provocation.
What are these allegations, which the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee called "a lot of innuendo, lots of circumstantial evidence”? What the NY Times spent over 8,000 words on in a single article amounts to this: The Russian government paid hackers to target the DNC and RNC because they don't like Hillary Clinton. They leaked embarrassing but unclassified party emails. The resulting press coverage of the leaks caused Trump to win the election.
We have become used to wealthy donors determining the outcome of our elections through attack ads and other underhanded behavior, against the interests of most Americans. We are now being told that our new president was selected by an enemy state. Yet if all party communications were made public in order to expose conflicts of interest that bias lawmaking to favor donors, we may re-evaluate who the enemies of American interests are. In a way, the Russians stand accused of making our elections more transparent.
As Bill Moyers acknowledged in a recent article in the Huffington Post ("An Electoral Process Trumped By Putin"), the US government has always considered itself entitled to meddle in elections all over the world. CIA coups overthrowing democraticly elected leaders, assassination attempts, and State Dept / US AID funding of "pro-democracy" NGOs are some of the many approaches used. Quite often, this has targeted Russia and its allies.
If the Russian leak story is true, this may have averted World War III. Hillary Clinton adamantly favored a "no-fly zone" over Syria. That would have made an air war with Russia almost certain, who would not have turned their back on their Syrian ally, nor given up their only military base in the Middle East, and with it their only warm-water naval port. While US foreign policy routinely tolerates brutal governments, it can't tolerate threats to US dominance. That is why Obama sent special forces and weapons to support affiliates of Al Qaeda in order to overthrow Syria's government, similar to Reagan's decision to arm jihadists in Afghanistan. Somehow, reporters rarely question US officials on if islamic extremism can effectively be stopped by arming islamic extremists.
The incoherence and arrogance of American politics nearly ended all human life during the Cuban Missile Crisis, is undermining Russian efforts to stop islamic extremism in Syria, and is made possible by a convoluted electoral system that prevents citizens from effectively exercising power. It is time to re-evaluate and reform every aspect of US elections so that they are truly free and fair.