If you talk to a Republican these days, you may still find yourself having to explain that Russia did interfere in the 2016 election on Donald Trump’s behalf, and that this was not a good thing. Unfortunately, there’s a troubling number of Republicans stepping away from the “No collusion!” defense and now trying to rationalize the betrayal of the United States as nothing other than a smart strategy.
The problem is that not only does the Kremlin consider their interference in 2016 to be a good investment, as America is routinely at odds with former allies and losing its influence around the world, allowing Putin and his oligarchs to prop themselves up, but other countries have taken notice of how well it worked. Russia isn’t the only country we have to worry about interfering in the 2020 election. In last year’s midterms, according to U.S. intelligence agencies, China and Iran were planning interference activities of their own to affect the electoral outcome.
Microsoft has reported an attempt by Iranians to target an unnamed presidential campaign as well as journalists and government officials. Twitter suspended some 200,000 accounts they believe were part of a coordinated effort by the Chinese government to turn Americans against the Hong Kong protestors.
Considering the Chinese government’s displeasure with the trade wars, it’s not difficult to imagine them wanting a hand in how our elections play out. Just the suspicion that other countries may order cyber attacks against our electoral system may depress voter turnout and undermine our confidence in fair elections – yet another long-term goal that many autocracies often share.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making