Of course, America’s hands aren’t clean when it comes to foreign elections, either. Dov Levin, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, reported that between 1946 and 2000 the United States influenced 81 foreign elections. That count doesn’t include covert efforts to create change in foreign governments to advance American interests, which happen as much as two-thirds of the time. Levin documented many U.S. actions to help one party prevail. Those efforts included direct funding, distributing information and misinformation, training campaign staffs, making threats or offering public support, and using foreign aid on behalf of one side.
Of course, Russia is equally guilty of past electioneering. Levin, for example, found that Russia, the United States or both influenced about 10 percent of national elections in foreign countries from 1946 to 2000.
Frankly, the current Russian hacking flap is not news to anyone who monitors elections worldwide. Attempts to influence elections have always happened one way or another. Whether it’s with money, propaganda (information and misinformation), fake news, false allegations, or hacked communications, individuals and entities have always worked hard – openly or secretly – to affect our elections. I doubt that will ever change because elections matter to everyone around the globe, not just Americans.
For me, the critical aspect of elections is that we safeguard the voting process so the act of casting ballots is never corrupted. We must know that our president is fairly elected, and is the legitimate leader of America and the free world. If evidence proves ballot-box tampering, then we must unite to stop that kind of influence. That focus helps us separate poor losers from people who were disenfranchised as citizens.
Any other kind of influence – like Russia hacking emails and sharing the contents publicly – is business as usual.