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Here Come the Russians!

I keep hearing that the Russians “influenced” our elections in 2016, and will again in 2020. China just threaten they were planning on interfering with our elections this year. Can anyone tell me how exactly they influenced our elections? Did they hack into our voting system and change votes? No. Did they mastermind a plan to get ineligible voters to vote for their preferred candidate? No. Did they execute an elaborate scheme of ballot mining to stack votes for their preferred candidates? No. Did they block voter ID so it is impossible to know who was voting under which name? No. The last three are actually done by political parties in the United States.

It’s not like Russian slipped in a Manchurian Candidate controlled by Moscow to run our government. They tried to sway the election for one or the other of the candidates they preferred. Isn’t that what both political parties do, and most politically active citizens do?

What actually did the Russians do that “influenced” our elections? What? They bought advertising space on social media outlets to spew propaganda. So? If the Russians were actually successful in using their propaganda to sway our election, that is an indictment on the United States voter. Do we not do our own research? Do we not double check the information and claims that are presented to us? Do we only get our information and thus make our decisions from one source that has not been personally vetted by us? Do we just take the first claim that comes across our social media site as absolute fact, and thus act upon it? If this is really the case, we must do better as voters, start informing ourselves better by looking at all sides of the issue, double check, triple check information before accepting it. Free flow of information is vital to a healthy democracy, but there is a responsibility of the consumer of information to put in the effort make an informed determination between fact and propaganda.

Speaking of foreign governments influencing elections. Isn’t that the history of the United States government? How many foreign leaders has our CIA overthrown? How many friendly puppet governments have we installed in other countries? How can we be shocked that the Russians or other countries tried to influence our election and democratic process, when we are the world champs of it?

This is how the game of international politics is played in the era of the World Wide Web. Foreign countries are going to use modern technology to act in their own interests. They will disrespect our laws for their own gain. What can we do? We must be on guard. We must protect ourselves from the propaganda that is infecting our minds. We must start thinking for ourselves? I believe we are smart enough to deal with the invasion of this foreign propaganda. We are not wilting flowers, helpless victims who have no control over how we vote, who we elect, how we think. We are better than that. We cannot allow ourselves to be swayed so easily? Isn’t that our job as human beings?

Everything presented to us is not true. There will be a lot of false information put out there, not just from the Russians or other foreign governments, but from both political parties, and every news network. That is why skepticism must be our default position. Never take anything on face value. Always question the claims of others, especially in politics. That is our obligation. We are not sheep being easily led to our own slaughter. It’s up to us to consume our news from multiple sources with varying viewpoints that challenge our strongly held beliefs and conclusions. It is also up to our media to be more honest and objective, in short, be real journalists and not propagandist for their preferred party, so we know who we can trust, and we won’t feel compelled to get information from random non-vetted sources because we are tired of dealing with the bias and spin from our mainstream media outlets.

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Judd Garrett is a former NFL player, coach and executive. He is a frequent contributer to the website Real Clear Politics, and has recently published his first novel, No Wind

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