Russia didn’t ‘hack’ the election

JOSHUA DAUSENER, Opinion Columnist

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TNS
A poll asks people about the theories behind the Russian hacks on the 2016 presidential election. While many polled Trump voters rejected the idea of Russian hacking in support of Trump, the majority believe millions of illegal votes were cast in the election.

A popular story that may have come up at students’ holiday family dinners is that of Russia getting involved in the US Presidential election. A US intelligence report released last week detailed Russian intentions and involvement.

“We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.

We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.”

Russia did get involved, and Russia did prefer Trump, however the popular headline and conversation starter, “Russia hacked the election,” is misleading. Somebody who is just learning about Russian involvement in the election may hear “Russia hacked the election,” and believe Russia directly hacked American voting machines and altered vote tallies in favor of Donald Trump.

This isn’t true.

Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee, gave the e-mails to WikiLeaks, who then released the emails to the public. That’s all Russia did, in terms of hacking. Direct hacking would be a much more serious action. It just so happened that the emails revealed the DNC to be what many had long suspected; hair-raisingly corrupt.

What Russia did was unacceptable, and no country should ever meddle in the elections of another. However, discussion in the US about the emails has completely shifted to the Russians.

Again, Russia’s actions were unacceptable, but the American people should have seen the DNC emails anyway. People have a right to know what political parties are up to behind closed doors.

These parties are supposed to be representing us, and our interests, in government. The WikiLeaks emails revealed some alarming information about the Democratic Party. The emails reveal the DNC conspiring to undermine Bernie Sanders both during and after his campaign for president, collusion between media and top DNC brass and future government job appointments for wealthy Democratic donors. Also released by WikiLeaks were parts of the infamous Hillary Clinton Wall Street speech transcripts that Clinton never released.

Unfortunately, top Democrats appear to have succeeded in shifting the narrative from the contents of the emails to the hackers who obtained them.

When asked about the emails last week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi replied, “… you were accomplices in this. It was every single day you reported that there was an email that was embarrassing to the Clinton campaign without saying, ‘We know this because of disruption by a foreign power into our electoral system.’ You knew that. You knew it was the Russians.”

The media has also done an excellent job of shifting the narrative away from the emails and towards the Russians, and the WikiLeaks emails suggests this may not be an accident.

This is part of a larger trend in which top Democratic officials seem to be have a lot of blame to spread for their loss, but have failed to acknowledge the biggest factor: themselves. The truth is, the Democrats lost because they have completely lost touch with the American people, and have become a party of corruption and corporatism.

Senator Sanders told NPR in an interview last week, “Look, you can’t simply go around to wealthy people’s homes raising money and expect to win elections, you’ve got to go out and mix it up with be with ordinary people.” He later added, “The Democratic Party swallowed the bait. They became hooked on big money.”

Mixed reports suggest Russians also hacked the Republican National Committee. It’s a shame that RNC emails have not been released, as Americans should also find out what top Republicans are doing behind closed doors.

Moving forward, we cannot focus just on the Russians, but on rebuilding the Democratic Party. First, the Democrats needs to improve their cyber security.

Politically, it’s time for the Democrats to again become a grassroots party that is made up of, and represents, all people from all walks of life in this country. A party that answers to the needs of all Americans, and not just the billionaire class.

We need to build a party that can take on Trump and the Republicans in future elections. The young people in this country, including UNI students, are an integral part of this mission.

It is essential for UNI students to get involved in the political process. The departing President Obama once said, “You are the change you have been waiting for.”

It is time for us to get our hands dirty, and clean up this mess. We can change the course of the country, and it’s time for us to take action.

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