Afraid of Foreign Election Meddling? Worry More About America’s Sick Political Culture.
For a people famously disinterested in events outside their own borders, Americans offer up a lot of rent-free space in their minds to foreign political operatives. Liberals fret that Russians plot nefarious schemes to support President Donald Trump’s reelection effort, while conservatives worry that Chinese and Ukrainian energy companies are funneling funds to Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden through his son.
That foreign players have fiddled with U.S. elections in recent years is no revelation, though it seems unlikely that the efforts had much impact. That so many Americans find it believable that major presidential candidates are foreign-backed puppets is less testimony to the effectiveness of overseas scheming than to the fraught nature of U.S. political culture.
In an already volatile political climate, The New York Times recently reported that “President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia is most likely continuing to approve and direct interference operations aimed at raising President Trump’s re-election chances, a recent C.I.A. analysis concluded.” That squares with warnings from RAND Corporation that “Russia might try again to manipulate and divide U.S. voters through social media.”
Both analyses are just a hair more than speculative—the CIA has “moderate confidence” in its findings—but they follow up on reports of Russian dirty tricks in the 2016 election involving hacked emails released through Wikileaks and incendiary social media posts from front groups that were supposed to set Americans against one another (more than they already are, that is).
For anybody at this late date who doesn’t have at least a rough familiarity with the shenanigans, they’re covered in Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller’s report on the subject. While Mueller’s team uncovered a remarkable amount of political sleaziness and the tacit approval of the dirty tricks campaign by the Trump team, “ultimately, the investigation did not establish that the Campaign coordinated or conspired with the Russian government in its election-interference activities.”
That means Russia’s efforts were covert (not causally linked to the source) and carried out without the active participation of a contender for office. That, according to the University of Hong Kong’s Dov Levin, who studies such in
Article from Latest – Reason.com