“Russian Hacking … Elections Affected?”
Ty J. Young Editorial
The possibility that U.S. elections could be hacked by foreign governments is scary and worrisome. Without question, over the years, American elections have been subjected to disinformation, cheating, lying, and voter fraud. All and more have occurred over the past two centuries. Most of the voting public believe when criminal intrusion into the voting process happens, it is discovered and prosecuted. The public perception prior to 2016 is that cases not discovered are so minor or rare that they have not impacted the outcome of a national election.
The Russian hacking case, made public in the media for several days and addressed as a big issue by the outgoing Obama Administration, is something quite different. The media has portrayed this hacking event as directly impacting the outcome of the election. To be clear, it has not. All the major stories regarding classified emails, James Comey’s announcements, FBI investigations, and secret servers were first reported by U.S. news agencies. Not Wikileaks or the Russians.
Thankfully, Russian computer hacks could not have changed votes since the voting machines themselves were not hooked up to the internet. Furthermore, the reports to Congressional committees last week confirmed that vote counts were not affected.
The media has also built the narrative this was a campaign to affect the outcome of the U.S. Presidential election in general, a sort of “disinformation” campaign that would widely impact voter sentiment and therefore voting decisions. That may be true, but it is nothing new. Foreign and international events always affect voting patterns, whether a foreign government puts it into the media or not. The attacks on 9/11 directly impacted how people voted, as did the 2008 banking crisis. Foreign governments often try to influence public opinion in the U.S., but that is something quite different than trying to change vote totals. The Director of National intelligence, James Clapper, confirmed the following about the Russian hacking– “…. They did not change any vote tallies or anything of that sort.”
So why does the media and the Obama Administration continue to hammer the message that the Russians affected the 2016 election? And why are most observers dismissing the media narrative?
I. Why the Media Believes, and Wants Us to Believe, the “Russian Election Hacking” Narrative:
1. ALL the Intelligence Agencies are saying it happened. What do the intelligence agencies say? They say there was a concerted Russian effort to supply hacked information and emails online to negatively impact the campaign of Hillary Clinton. This is not news – it happens every day on every major global subject, and we do it to other countries as well. An important fact is the intelligence agencies said not one vote was changed electronically by Russian hacking, and not one news story regarding Hillary’s stolen emails has been denied. These email stories, including but not limited to: (A) Using unethical practices and breaking their own rules to stop Bernie Sanders from winning the nomination; (B) Using racist terms to describe their own voting groups; (C) Planning assault and battery at Trump rallies; (D) Collusion with the media to help defeat Trump in the debates. The problem with these email dumps weren’t that they were Russian propaganda, but that they were ALL TRUE!
2. It is Obama’s favorite story line. Focusing on a story that had no impact on the election, but could distract a certain segment of the population away from recognizing the national repudiation of your legacy, would seem like the smart thing to do if you were an outgoing President. It would be an attempt to distract voters from your campaigning on behalf of the person who lost… on the historic losses at the state and local level… the loss of the governorship… the continued Republican hold on the Senate and the House… that your legacy was rejected to a man with no political experience whatsoever. Obama had nothing to say when the Chinese hacked over 1 million of his employees personnel files at the Office of Personnel Management last year. And the government knew of the Russian hacking into the DNC systems back in the spring of 2016… and did nothing about it! When you put that into perspective, it is easy to see why the President would prefer to talk about something else.
3. It fits the Clinton narrative and helps explain away her loss. It is much easier to talk about Russian election influence than why her campaign pulled out of Michigan, or never visited Wisconsin. It is much easier to talk about Russian hacking than why you put yourself and the country at risk with a server in your basement outside of government oversight and protection. The Russians did not make Clinton refer to American voters as “deplorable.” Clinton and her team needed an explanation aside from their own incompetence and ineptness, and with the media’s help, they found it.
II. Why Many are Skeptical of the “Russian Election Hacking” Narrative:
1. Blue Collar voters never got the message from Putin that they should vote for Trump. The steel-worker in Ohio or the laid-off auto worker in Michigan never heard a whisper from ol’ Vladimir Putin on how he should vote for Trump. Even then, if they heard the Russians preferred Trump, they voted for him anyways. Lost jobs, lost wages, lost hope… these were the driving factors in rust belt voting patterns. It is beyond belief to most people that the Russians enacted a disinformation campaign that affected their vote. Almost every exit poll found the same issues affecting voters: fear of the future, anger at the establishment, and wanting a change. It was not a Russian preference for Trump. Dislike for Hillary carried many votes in blue collar states, and that dislike came from negative news stories about Hillary. Those stories were reported by the mainstream media and they were not disavowed. Those were the reasons people voted for Trump, not some Russian boogeyman sending them an email saying “…. hey, we think you should vote for Comrade Donald.”
2. Intelligence agencies have a poor track record when politicized. From Pearl Harbor to the Iranian Revolution to the Pakistani nuclear program to the fall of the Soviet Union, the CIA has rarely gotten their predictions right. While Iraq did have weapons of mass destruction, it was far from a slam dunk. The FBI solves domestic crimes, and is therefore usually reacting to events, not predicting intelligence outcomes. Furthermore, it is highly unusual to be reporting on findings to the media, and to Congress, on such highly subjective subject matters. Especially, right before a new administration takes office.
3. It didn’t make sense for Russia to support Trump – Obama was Russia’s best friend. It started with Clinton’s Russian reset, combined with selling 20% of our uranium to the Russians through the Clinton Foundation. Follow that up with knowing and doing nothing about the Russian violations of the original Reagan era INF treaty and don’t forget one of Obama’s FIRST actions was to prevent the installation of missile defense programs in Poland and the Czech Republic at the request of Russia. There was Obama on the hot mic telling Premiere Medvedev to tell Putin to hold on until the 2012 election was over, and then Obama could be more “flexible”. Or how about the Syrian “red line” and no action taken – allowing the Russians to enter the Syrian Civil War, and replace the U.S. as the primary major power in the Middle East for the first time since 1973. The “New Start” Treaty only required the U.S. to reduce its missile stockpile, allowed the Russians to have the final numerical advantage, and even with that victory it is being reported the Russians are cheating even further. The Ukraine invasion and annexation of Crimea was met with stern lectures. The idea that the Obama/Clinton team was bad for Putin goes against all available evidence.
The United States has, and our citizens should support, a robust intelligence capability and agencies which execute the mission of keeping Americans safe. Whatever evidence exists to suggest the Russians were attempting to affect the outcome of the American election, it did not succeed – as Director Clapper stated on the record.
To the extent the information the Russians stole and possibly gave to Wikileaks, which Wikileaks denies it was the Russians, and then was made available in the media, you have to ask yourself:
A) Whose job was it to prevent the hacking?
B) Who exposed the secrets in their own server in a basement?
C) Was any of the information untrue?
The answers to those questions will help you assign blame as to who was responsible, and how the voters determined the winner on their own merit, not a Russian boogeyman.
Both parties, and all voters, should be alarmed at efforts by foreign governments to influence our elections. We have a right to expect our government is taking actions to protect the integrity of elections. However, unless a vote was changed by Russian actions, the idea that voters were persuaded by the Russians to vote for Trump is silly. Only Hillary has herself to blame for a vote cast against her.
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