By Arun Gupta (February 21, 2018)
I’m convinced the Russian state did/does have the intention to stir the pot in the U.S., sabotage elections, create chaos. But that is mainly because we destroyed their country during the shock therapy of the 1990s. There was a staggering decline in life expectancy on the scale of a full-blown invasion. Then Clinton lent U.S. support for anti-Russian unrest in the Ukraine and anti-Putin protests in Russia.
So I think anyone on the left trying to deny Russian meddling is hiding their head in the sand.
That said, my opinion of it is, “Meh.” There is a huge gulf between the intent to meddle vs. how much if it has really happened, and, then, most important, whether it has any actual effect. On the last part, I think the evidence thus far shows the impact is pretty much nonexistent.
It’s amusing and sad to watch so many liberals itching for a new Cold War with Russia and calling Trump a traitor. Because long before the Russians supposedly tried to hack the 2016 election, the U.S. electoral process was a shitshow.
Part of that shitshow is due to partisan right-wing gerrymandering that goes back years.
Part of it is due to voter suppression and the disenfranchisement of millions of Black and Brown folk criminalized under the bipartisan war on drugs and war on crime that go back decades — and which the Clintons bear considerable responsibility for.
And part of it is embedded in the U.S. Constitution going back centuries, specifically the anti-democratic nature of the Senate at the federal (and state) level, and the unitary executive with veto power from the municipal level to the federal.
Either of these are far more damaging to a functioning representative democracy than not just Russian intervention, but the bugaboo of money in politics.
As for the Russian troll and bot armies on social media, they are laughable. Liberals, progressives, leftists, “revolutionaries,” don’t need help attacking each other with hammer and tongs. I can’t open Facebook without seeing conversations where people — who know each IRL — are cursing and slandering each other.
It’s understandable, the stakes are high and we seem powerless. I am certainly not an innocent in this internecine warfare online. But I’ve concluded the problem is not Russians stirring the pot, it’s social media itself. It valorizes strident rhetoric and snarky slogans, both of which damage genuine organizing and base-building.
I prefer to hang out and talk to people in person, whether in a formal organizing setting or shooting the shit over good food and drink.
We build a better world by building better relationships.