Everybody around the world knows about Russia’s history of meddling in the 2016 US elections, so it doesn’t come as much of a shock that they would try it again in the 2020 elections. Of course, Russia favors pro-Russian candidates, and it was clear early on that then Presidential Candidate Trump was forming a relationship with Russia when he mentioned Russia in numerous rallies. Trump essentially beckoned Russia to interfere with the US election by poaching them to investigate Hilary Clinton’s emails. In addition to helping Trump in the election, Russia undermined and fragmented faith in the US election process. More importantly, Russia will do the same thing in the 2020 election, but the US hasn’t seemed to put tactics in place to fight against the interference and sadly, the President sees it as a joke.
The 2016 Interference
Throughout the course of the 2016 election, a large group of Russians hacked into state voter databases; probed Hillary Clinton’s campaign, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Democratic National Committee; released politically damaging information on the internet; spread propaganda on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram; set up meetings with members of the Trump campaign and its associates; and created business proposals in Moscow to the Trump Organization. Russia did all of this to not only help give Trump an edge during the 2016 campaign season and damage the Clinton campaign, but to invoke distrust in the legitimacy of American democracy. Russia’s interference became so suspicious that it ultimately led to the infamous Mueller investigation after Trump was elected.
The 2020 Interference
By now it is no surprise that Russia favors President Trump and hopes that he is re-elected in November 2020. In a briefing last month, lawmakers were warned that Russia are helping re-elect Trump in 2020. While U.S. intelligence officials have told lawmakers and the Trump administration that Russia continues to Interfere with US elections, there has been a new astonishing revelation that Russia intends to interfere with the 2020 Democratic primaries, as well as the general election. One of the ways Russia intends to meddle is by aiding Bernie Sanders’ campaign.
Russian state sponsored messaging has spoken about the Sanders’ campaign over the past six weeks. Their coverage has started to mirror pro-Sanders talking points first used in his 2016 presidential campaign. While it is unclear the amount of help Russia is giving the Sanders’ campaign, there is definite aid towards his him. Sanders’ has stated in various interviews that he does not want Russian involvement in his campaign, and vowed to do something about foreign election tampering when he is office. However, this aid has the aim of ensuring that Sanders is the Democratic nominee, as Sanders is regarded as the least concerning competition for Trump. National security officials recently warned that social media agitation and false information has already been spreading throughout the presidential race.
The Response to The Interference
While it is a known fact that Russia continues to interfere with American elections, American politicians have done nothing to counteract the foreign involvement. To go further, President Trump has made a mockery of the interference and has not done anything to prevent the attacks. When information surfaced that Russia were interfering with the 2020 election, he immediately became upset and berated the then acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, over the conclusions from intelligence briefings. Although the facts regarding Russia’s involvement so far have been presented to Trump, he disregards it as Democratic propaganda. There has been blatant disregard to the concern over foreign interference in US elections and it doesn’t seem like a solution in sight.
Why Does it Matter ?
Free and fair elections are the epitome of the US’ moral compass; they pride themselves on the “trusted” Democratic process elections hold. Russian interference in the American elections has exposed how defenseless America is against cyber-security threats. Additionally, it doesn’t begin to acknowledge how badly Putin has wounded the American system. More importantly, foreign tampering sends a message to other foreign entities that America is uninterested in stopping the interference, and its passivity is in fact welcoming the interference.
Russia meddling in the election helped dismantle American Democracy and create a divide within the country. Over 41% of Americans do not believe the US is ready for another election and does not have trust in the election process. Americans do not seem to trust the process and while it may take significant strides to regain that trust, lawmakers must start to rebuild the election process. The rebuilding process probably won’t happen until the next administration enters the White House, considering the current administration has shown little interest in reversing the damage caused by Russia’s meddling. However, it is a task that needs to happen if trust is to ever be restored from the information bomb that exploded on American democracy.