Democrats Risk Blowback On Russia Narrative

In follow up of my post yesterday on the McCarthyism we are seeing from many in the Democratic establishment in their attacks on the left, it is worth mentioning some signs of sanity from some Democrats. While it only applies to some, Politico has written that Democrats fear Russia probe blowback:

Democrats are increasingly conflicted about how forcefully to press the issue of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Fearful of alienating voters who appear more concerned about the economy and health care, Democrats campaigning in districts across the country are de-emphasizing Russia in their rhetoric — and some are warning that a persistent focus on the Russia investigation could backfire.

“In the races where I’m working, I think voters think that Russia is important and that the questions need to get answered,” Bill Burton, a veteran Democratic consultant, said at a political convention this past weekend. “But they’re mostly sick of hearing about it, and they want to hear politicians talk about things that are more directly important in their lives.”

…California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who’s running for governor, was even more direct in a recent appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” The Russia investigation, he said, “doesn’t do anything for Democrats at all … It’s a loser.”

The problem for Democrats goes beyond this. While we do not know the final results or everything which Mueller has uncovered, based upon what has been released it increasingly looks like the Democrats have gone far beyond the facts in making this a political issue. While the Russians may have meddled to some degree in the election, the fact is that the Russians have attempted to meddle in our elections for decades–just as we have meddled in their elections and the elections of many other countries.

The arguments from Democrats fall apart when they try to blame Russia for Clinton’s loss. Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign both shows many of the mistakes made by Clinton which accounted for her loss, along with how she decided within the first twenty-four hours upon the strategy of blaming others. Russia did not force Clinton to ignore the rust belt states, or do a terrible job of campaigning there when she realized she was in trouble. Russia did not force Clinton to violate the rules in setting up her private server, and then repeatedly lie about it for months. Russia did not force Clinton to violate the ethics agreement she entered into before being confirmed as Secretary of State, and use her career in politics for personal financial gain. Russia did not force Clinton to take extreme pro-war positions and other conservative views which alienated many potential Democratic voters. 

While Donald Trump along with members of his family and campaign have had many suspicious actions involving Russia, there has been no evidence of successful collusion between them to impact the election. I have long believed that Trump’s actions were based more upon possible financial crimes and covering up activities of his family and associates. Last spring week former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in his Congressional testimony: “To my current knowledge, the Russian government did not through any cyber intrusion alter ballots, ballot counts or reporting of election results.” We have not seen anything to alter this.

While Donald Trump, Jr. showed he was not above meeting with Russians to attempt to affect the election, it turned out that Russia had nothing to offer. The closet thing we have to evidence that Russia might have attempted to hack the election showed that they were not successful. The stories of Jared Kushner seeking a back channel to communicate with Russia both suggests that this was over financial dealings, and raises the question as to why he would need to set up a back channel after the election if they had already been colluding with Russia.

There remains questions as to whether the claims from the intelligence community that Russia was responsible for the Wikileaks release of email are any more valid than the claims of Saddam having WMD before the invasion of Iraq. Even if the investigations should show that Russia was responsible for the hacked email, nobody has seriously questioned the accuracy of the information released by Wikileaks. The Wikileaks releases of hacked email hurt because it verified criticism that the DNC had violated its own rules in rigging the nomination for Clinton, and in showing Clinton’s dishonesty. The undemocratic manner in which a major political party picks its nominees is a far more serious threat to democracy than anything actually achieved by Russia.

Blaming Clinton’s loss on Russian propaganda on social media ignores the strong opposition to Clinton from many segments of the political spectrum and the large amount of anti-Clinton material which would be present independent of Russia. People on the left have opposed DLC Democrats like the Clintons since the 1990’s, and have opposed Clinton’s neoconservative interventionism since the Bush years, independent of any Russian influence. Russia certainly cannot be blamed for similar Democratic loses in 2010 and 2016 when they also performed poorly by running as a Republican-lite party. The real problem is that by copying the policies of Republicans, Democrats turn off many potential voters while failing to win over Republicans.

Politico is right that Democrats run the risk that they will not win elections based upon their anti-Russia hysteria because this is not the major concern of voters. Democrats face a greater risk that their initial claims might be shown to be unsubstantiated partisan claims, further damaging their credibility. In October, Hillary Clinton claimed that Donald Trump would be threatening democracy by not accepting the results of the election. Democrats now risk being held to Hillary Clinton’s own standards.

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5 Comments

  1. 1
    Raymond Smith says:

    The one flaw I find in this article is there is not one shred of discussion in it that considers the effects of the massive propaganda used by Russia on social media. 

    I would suggest reading some articles dealing with how effective this propaganda is in persuading people to think in a desired way. You just might find it very enlightening.

    Far as the Democratic Party doing wrong Yes sir they did and do even now. Unfortunately in America right now we have a choice between choosing not good over evil but greater evil over lesser evil. Why is this you all may ask? Truth be told this is because the vast majority of the populace want things this way. 

    See there are politicians, the rich and powerful and they are allowed to run things by "We The People". Look at the populace numbers folks, if all of the rest of us or a vast majority wanted things differently run it would happen. After all history demonstrates over and over that the mass majority are the ones that actually change things. Yes it does happen from time to time via the people rising up and making it happen. No, no matter how much you hear about change happen via votes those days are long past. The system is broken folks things will not change unless those that are keeping said system broken start to fear that they are at risk of losing all. Check your history and see what it took for things to change, it was not by voting in a rigged system.

    Let the Meuller investigation go on but it should be wider spread to include all of Congress. After all if innocent no one has to fear an investigation only the corrupt do. Makes one wonder if there are any politicians in Congress that are innocent, does it not?

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    That is discussed in the second from the last paragraph, and I have had previous posts on this. 

    People had negative views of Clinton long before this election and it did not require any Russian propaganda for this to occur. Clinton further reinforced the negative views of herself, such as in how she repeated the same lies regarding the email scandals regardless of how many times fact checkers exposed her. 

  3. 3
    Eruanion says:

    Raymond, considering that Clinton also had a massive propaganda effort on social media, one has to wonder, does that mean Russian trolls are just better than American trolls? We have actual proof of the people hired by one of the superpacs to quash all the "fake news" about Hillary. We have only CrowdStrikes actual word that the Russians did the same thing. Or at least, all of the proof of Russian interference is held by CrowdStrike. Framing all of the bad press she received as fake news propagated and proliferated by Russia is a great excuse, and that is all it is, an excuse. There is no way to prove it was Russia, and not all of the article about her are fake. As for the effectiveness of propaganda, it is obvious by reading certain posts that it is effective, and also easy to see that America uses it just as much as Russia. Are we the only country allowed to mess with someone else's elections? 

    I agree with you that they need to investigate wider, but, why limit it to those serving? It is always easier to get the presumed winner to throw the game than to cheer enough that the underdog will win. 

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    While there is no doubt that Clinton has been the subject of a number of fake attacks from the right, Clinton’s rather vast propaganda efforts sure tried to mix in all the legitimate criticism of Clinton with the “fake news.” To the Clinton camp, “fake news” meant not only things which were faked, but verified stories which exposed serious flaws in Clinton’s character and record.

    They attributed the criticism to Russia, making it easier for them to ignore the validity of many of the stories about Clinton.

  5. 5
    Will says:

    What Hillary doesn't want you to realize is that "propaganda" is most effective when it's the truth. Certainly, Russia promoted and circulated many of the stories based on Clinton's own emails from Wikileaks, but as they say in the writing business, this stuff writes itself.

    As far as social media goes, many people like myself have posted anti-Clinton commentary. In my case at least, all of it is based on her public record, financial disclosures, and words out of her own mouth. I felt she was much more dangerous than Trump, seeing as I consider her to be an actual war criminal. When you take into account her desire to  use nuclear  weapons in the Middle East (Debate with Obama in 2008) and her self avowed desire to provoke an attack on Russia by establishing a Syrian no-fly zone, I truly do believe that she would have gotten us into World War III.

    Trump is a bully. Like most bullies, he only seems to want to pick fights with the weak. While I am disgusted by this, and am certainly no Trump supporter, it's less dangerous than Hillary's rampant megalomania.

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