This past election had two notable hacks which revealed much about the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton in particular. First, we were granted access to the Democratic National Committee’s emails which revealed plots to get Hillary the nomination despite the public insistence that they were neutral. Then, afterwards, we were treated to the personal email box of John Podesta by Wikileaks, which revealed corruption in actual public service.
Despite the leaks apparently not having much effect, given the hyperpartisanship in American politics – not varying much in policy, but with incredibly strong allegiance to one’s chosen party – headlines have come out claiming that Russia hacked the US election. Mother Jones published an article entitled “The NSA Chief Says Russia Hacked the 2016 Election.” Gizmodo published an article entitled “FBI Now Agrees That Russia Hacked the Election to Help Trump Win.” Daily Kos published one entitled “By Any Definition, Russia Hacked the Election.” America Online published one entitled “Could Russia have Actually Hacked the US Presidential Election for Trump?”
However, there is one thing absent from each and every one of these articles: any information backing up the implication that the election results did not reflect the votes cast by the electorate. That would be the implication of the headlines and the message that the editors and/or journalists want people to think. It is not unthinkable that, a year from now, there will be a popular belief that Russia hacked voting machines and these outlets, when called on it, will say they never actually said that. It is still horribly irresponsible.
What these articles do cover is claims that Russia was behind the two major hacks mentioned earlier. CrowdStrike, hired by the Democratic Party, had published a long list of shaky circumstantial evidence suggesting that Russia was behind these hacks back in June. This has since been very expertly shown to be rather frivolous in an article for The Intercept, by Sam Biddle. While it is possible that Russia hacked these e-mails, it is far from certain.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) compared the hacks to the attacks of September 11, a blatant pretext for war, and Watergate. Of course, any comparison to Watergate is extremely superficial. The purpose of the Watergate wiretapping and break-in was to gather political and financial information in order to win elections; it was purely partisan and political corruption. These hacks, by contrast, revealed such political corruption, though we cannot be certain if they were done by partisan purposes. If Russia is behind them, there isn’t reason to believe it was for partisan purposes. Former British ambassador, Crag Murray, alleges that he received the Podesta documents from a Democratic Party whistleblower and passed them on to Assange afterward. If this is accurate, a more apt comparison is Deepthroat and the revelation that Watergate happened at all.
We must remember what was in these emails. The Democratic National Committee had been searching for a way to discredit Sanders and ensure that Hillary Clinton won the primary. To that end, it is likely that the whole suspension of Sanders’ access to his own information stored on DNC servers was orchestrated by the DNC, the debate schedule was made to favor Clinton and we know for a fact that Donna Brazile leaked questions for an April 14 Democratic Party debate to Clinton beforehand. We also saw that Clinton had intentions to govern completely different than her campaigning suggested she would. We saw proof of media collusion with the Clinton campaign going back to its beginning, which should ruin the reputations of several journalists, and of course a smoking gun showing that the Clinton campaign had orchestrated the rise of Donald Trump in the first place.
Arguably, these emails revealed political corruption that far surpassed the political corruption of Richard M Nixon.
However, if they did indeed commit these hacks, is that really a bad thing for America? Whoever did hack the DNC and then John Podesta gave the American electorate a lot of valid and important information about corruption in the Democratic Party and the lies we are fed consistently. These weren’t fake emails, and since the election we have seen the shift from the propaganda that they might not be real – only one was challenged, by Donna Brazile, and then was proven without a doubt to be 100% authentic – to new propaganda that this was a horrible thing for American democracy.
By comparison, see this article from the Washington Post about the various attempts by the CIA to interfere in the political processes elsewhere.
While America did not use this information responsibly, generally either ignoring it or using it to promote another horrible candidate, Donald Trump, it was a great gift which we should have used to rethink our politics. We should have seen a massive third party turnout which never materialized. I would personally like to thank those behind the leaks.
In fact, these leaks shouldn’t be seen as meddling in our election. Rather, they should be seen as a counter to actual meddling in our electoral system.
As mentioned above, the leaks revealed massive manipulation of the election and the outright theft of the Democratic primary. The leaks “interfered” in the election in the way that journalists covering a scandal are interfering by providing accountability and informing the American public. However, what was leaked was interfering with the election through outright fraud and an Orwellian style control over the populace, a control that appears to be continuing as people rally against the fraud being exposed. In an amazing political spin, the Democratic Party and Clinton campaign have spun their own illegal activities being revealed into a story about how those keeping them accountable are meddling in the election.
Sadly, America appears to want to be ignorant to our political processes and not want to know the truth of the massive corruption that happens. In the political equivalent of Stockholm syndrome, Democratic Party supporters are coping with their captivity by siding with those holding them hostage in a neoliberal march to the right and demanding that those trying to free them be punished.
Of course, the question arises why we haven’t seen similar leaks surface for the Republican Party. The simple answer is that similar leaks wouldn’t exist. The RNC was extremely opposed to Trump from the start and didn’t make that secret, yet they let him become the nominee none the less when he won by the legitimate rules. Trump’s horrible policies were his public position and, if anything, he ended up with less horrible policies after he won the election. Trump’s scandals are easily found without hacking.
There may be some documents which could be leaked to show that he intentionally was trying to lose the election to help coronate his friend, in his personal e-mail, but we don’t know they exist at this time. I’m sure that there are e-mails somewhere amongst personal correspondence between Republicans about how they are working toward plutocracy, but which Republicans would leave record of that? Once again, these are things that should be plain and obvious.
While Trump and his administration will certainly attempt many things which should be opposed, considerable effort must be made to assist those struck by this Stockholm syndrome. Things won’t be moving in a positive direction with Democrats in charge instead, and so we must collectively acknowledge these leaks for the revelations they are. Only after doing so can we start organizing for a better future rather than furthering our own destruction.