Special Consul Robert Mueller testified before Congress on July 24, 2019. During his six hours of testimony before the House Judiciary Committee the major emphasis shifted from concerns about the outcome of the 2016 presidential election to attempts by foreign countries to influence all of our elections.
Mueller testified that for many years and right up to our next election cycle in 2020 several foreign entities were involving themselves in our democracy. And while Mueller specified only Russia for 2016 he made it clear that we should be aware of other actors. Iran, Israel and even our first cousins the British, among numerous others, have sought to inveigle themselves into our governmental decisions.
We have often been subtlety and sometimes not so subtlety nudged toward or away from war or toward or away from alliances with other countries. The favored techniques in days before the internet were the planting of fake newspaper stories or biased books and movies. Today spy dossiers or misleading memes and tweets over the internet are the preferred methods.
But if the aim of a foreign country is to defame or embarrass a politician it seems silly to dispense dirty secrets or even create false ones when such disclosures and prejudiced articles appear in the newspapers and on television every day. For example, if a country wanted to defame Donald Trump it should just encourage Americans to read The New York Times or watch CNN. And if a foreign entity wished to bring down Hillary Clinton it should republish stories from The National Enquirer or push FOX News. There is no need for foreign attempts to bring down a candidate for public office when we do such a thorough job of that ourselves.
What is even more perplexing is why any foreign country cares about our elections when we care so little about the outcomes ourselves. About 40% of eligible voters do not vote in presidential elections and only about 40% trouble themselves to vote in mid-term national elections. And when it comes to state, county and city elections most of the voters are those hoping to get jobs from the winners.
The bottom line may be that foreign entities are often more concerned with the outcomes of our elections than we are. Maybe we should learn from them.