Rough thoughts tonight:
The declassified version of “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections” is an interesting read. Unfortunately but understandably, the absence of much supporting information due to its classified nature does require a reader to “assume” in a variety of areas.
First impression personal opinion is that the Russian activities did not alter the outcome of the presidential election. Even without Russian interference, I believe that Donald Trump won the Electoral College votes fairly and according to the rules that have been in place for years.
I do feel like Russia had motive and means to at minimum create doubt with our electoral process and even without “cyberspace” holes that we need to enhance our voting and vote tallying systems. Voter ID, unless the ID incorporates a number of biometric measures, has no effect on the integrity of the ballot box. Law proposals as written and in some locales instituted are nothing more than thinly veiled disenfranchisement devices.
If one doubts Russia’s ability, I think it is fair to consider the statements of President-elect Donald Trump, many supporters, and media outlets who prior to the election suggested the possibilities of a “rigged election.” Albeit many of the feelings of “rigged” relied upon the premise that “illegals” would cast votes and other fraud occurring directly at the polling locations. Historically and statistically that proposed evidence has been asserted but verifiable proof doesn’t materialize to a degree where “foul play” can alter an outcome of a national election. Theoretically I would say that such fraud is possible for a statewide race but highly unlikely. Only at local levels could one truly hope to succeed and as I’ve written previously such a scheme requires the collaboration of many individuals and among the opponents in that election.
What bothers me is the acceptance in some cases and the utter dismissal with others of even the possibility of Russian involvement. People are correct in that the Russians did not prevent Hillary Clinton from going to specific states to campaign. The Russians, Vladimir Putin, or even Julian Assange, did not write the email communications. Still it appears that for some people it would not matter if they had because the only thing of importance was the final outcome.
It bothers me that we have 501(c)(4) groups who can funnel unlimited amounts of dark money into any election. Despite the ruling of SCOTUS in Citizens, the free speech of the working class is infringed by these non-profit groups and Super PACs. Politicians have become puppets of big money. No, that is not new historically, but what is new is the secrecy behind who pulls the strings. Set any monetary amount. I’ll toss out twice the median salary in this country and all donations greater than amount should be disclosed. The 501(c)(4) category should be abolished and any group engaged in political activities should register as a 527 entity. Many will throw the union or church cards as double standards, but I think that some formula can be derived to separate political activity from other work and tax the political involvement accordingly. Also, the problem is not merely the amount of money, but the lack of disclosure.
We the People have to become aware. Given the power of social media, we have to know who is behind the messaging we share and spread. Just because it fits our ideology or it’s what we want to believe doesn’t make it true. Falsehoods for whatever reason have become more influential than the truth.
Partisanship does not make that right.
It shows that we are weak and gullible.
Are we really?