Russian Interference in the 2020 Elections

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I know, I know, some of you will say too early. Some will say Democrats are looking for excuses already. However, we know the Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 election. The report issued by the Senate Intelligence Committee is damming in this respect. Part of the executive summary reads as follows:

>Russian activities demand renewed attention to vulnerabilities in U.S. voting infrastructure. In 2016, cybersecurity for electoral infrastructure at the state and local level was sorely lacking; for example, voter registration databases were not as secure as they could have been. Aging voting equipment, particularly voting machines that had no paper record of votes, were vulnerable to exploitation by a committed adversary. Despite the focus on this issue since 2016, some of these vulnerabilities remain.

This highly redacted document should be alarming to any American, no matter what political affiliation it has. Election security is essential to keep faith in the system we live under. We need to trust the results, and we know that since Russia rattled the gates and found them open, they will not be alone in this effort.

One measure we all could push is to go back to paper ballots. Yes, even if counting them would take longer, a paper ballot is impossible to hack. And while the Intelligence Community did say that they have no evidence that the ballots were changed, they cannot assure us that this will not happen in 2020. Paper ballots would go a long way in short-circuiting this.

There are other measures that need taking. They are meant to harden our cyber-infrastructure. To do this, there is a need for funds and legislation. Yet, the Senate Majority Leader keeps blocking this legislation calling it partisan, and proposing nothing to deal with this. He also blocked then-President Barack Obama from raising this issue to the public. Perhaps Obama should have gone ahead, and this is a major point of debate.

There are reasons why McConnell may not want to do secure election, from a political point of view. First, it offers some advantages to Republicans. Why? There is no doubt now that the Russian Federation favored Donald J Trump during the 2016 campaign. Also, the state of Kentucky is getting Russian pork in the form of an aluminum plant via Oleg Deripaska.

Then there is a question as to his trust in democracy, or for that matter the American political system. There is some evidence that Republicans are losing trust in the system because it is starting to benefit minorities. The Republican Coalition, as Lee Drutman makes clear in Vox is:

Since the 1980s, Republicans have held together a coalition around a woolly vision of “limited-government conservatism” that could mean different things to different people. Libertarian-minded business owners saw it as low taxes and deregulation. Conservative Christians saw it in terms of religious liberty or not extending rights to LGBTQ citizens. Middle-class whites who scored high on racial resentment scales saw it as government not taking their money to give free things to freeloading black and brown people.

These different groups can be kept in the same big-tent coalition because they all understood that on the values they cared about most, the Democratic Party was not the party for people like them. Over time, as they identified as conservatives and Republicans, they learned the orthodoxies that “people like them” stood for, and were pulled along for the sake of keeping the governing coalition together, understanding that any defection would spell defeat in a two-party system.

So an issue that should be non-partisan, and like a ten alarm fire, is not dealt with. Why? It might benefit those people, this is the code for being partisan.

We have likely come to the logical conclusion for the American political system. It is in the midst of the greatest crisis since before the Civil War. Partly because the system is starting to benefit people it was not meant to. And we have one party that is hell-bent on preserving an older system. It is one that preferred them. In the process, they have become an insurgency, even when they hold the White House, the Senate and control the fate of the Courts.

This insurgency is hell-bent on returning the country to an older era. That was one where their supremacy in the political and economic life of the nation would be assured. Democrats, however, are not too effective in fighting this. Partly, their leadership is a reflection of that era as well, even if their coalition is urban, diverse and younger.

We are in the midst of a crisis, and it will be exploited by foreign governments who are hell-bent on destroying liberal democracy itself. This is not just limited to the Russian Federation, who have engaged in these active measures for years.

Written by

Historian by training. Former day to day reporter. Sometimes a geek who enjoys a good miniatures game.

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