Now that the Mueller Report has essentially strangled the Trump-Russia collusion hoax – shot it in the chest, tied it to cement shoes and thrown it in the river – you might think that progressives are finally ready to put the hysteria over Russia’s election interference to rest. Unfortunately, you would be mistaken.
Since the collusion delusion was exposed, the left has decided to stage an obstruction production; a rousing performance of political theater created to convince the American public that President Trump impeded Mueller’s investigation by saying mean things and making decisions the constitution gives him the authority to make.
But what of the future of Russian intervention in U.S. domestic affairs? The American public can expect to see more caterwauling over Moscow’s malfeasance, but there are some doubts when it comes to the efficacy of Russia’s operations.
2020 Russian Influence
FBI Director Christopher Wray recently predicted that Russian meddling is not going to disappear anytime soon. He claimed the Kremlin will attempt to repeat its misdeeds during the 2020 presidential election and is already manipulating Americans daily. “What has continued pretty much unabated is the use of social media, fake news, propaganda, false personas, et cetera, to spin us up,” Wray told the Council on Foreign Relations.
The director also indicated that Russian intelligence wishes to “pit us against each other, sow divisiveness, discord, undermine Americans’ faith in democracy.” There is little doubt that Russia attempted to meddle in the 2016 election, though the exact extent of their activities is up for debate. But there is one essential factor has been ignored by the progressive left and their allies in the press: Did Russia’s interference actually change any minds?
Was Russia Successful?
The potency of Russian intervention is a subject that has flown under the radar; to many on the left, it is assumed that the Kremlin essentially got President Trump elected. But perhaps the reason why the establishment media has largely ignored this question is that the truth does not work in their favor.
Last year, the Senate commissioned two studies to analyze the actual impact of the Kremlin’s actions during the 2016 election. In particular, they examined the role played by the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA), which is known as an internet warfare organization, through its social media operations. Both studies revealed that these activities had a negligible impact on the results of the 2016 presidential race; only 11% of the content posted by the IRA was related to the election.
Moreover, the IRA spent minuscule amounts of money on social media ads that supposedly changed the minds of millions of Americans. The studies found that the organization spent about half of one percent of the amount paid by the Clinton and Trump campaigns on Facebook advertising. Given this paltry effort, it is unlikely the group would have reached – and convinced – the number of people required to swing the results of the race.
But the limited reach of the IRA’s operations is not the only indicator that the Kremlin’s attempted meddling was ineffective; the nature of the ads they posted has also been called into question. The left has intimated that Russia was able to change millions of minds with simple memes and social media posts, but upon examining the Russian content, it becomes clear that they are designed to elicit a quick emotional reaction, rather than informed decisions based on policy.
While many of the memes were of the standard type you would see on Twitter, others were so far out of the realm of reality that the notion that they would influence the average voter is laughable. One of these images featured the Yosemite Sam cartoon character complaining about being banned from television for being violent. After all, does anyone truly believe that even pro-gun voters would see this type of meme and think to themselves: “Wow, Yosemite Sam’s got a point. Trump wouldn’t ban Sam. I’ll vote Trump!”
Nevertheless, the left persists.
Progressives Still Hyping Russia
Gone are the days of 2012, when the Democrats laughed at the idea of a Russian threat. You remember Obama’s famous rejoinder to Mitt Romney during their debate, don’t you? Well, it turns out that the 1980s didn’t want their foreign policy back – but the 2010s wanted a Russia scare, too. Now, the Democrats are stirring up the type of furor over Russian relations that might remind one of the Cold War.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez recently claimed that the United States is at war with the Kremlin. “We are at war now. It is a cyber war,” he said during an appearance on CNN. “Unfortunately, because our commander in chief is compromised, the federal government is asleep at the switch.” Please do not become alarmed if you happen to see progressive cities reimplement “duck and cover” drills to prepare for nuclear attacks from the big bad bear across the sea.
When any country attempts to interfere in a U.S. election, Americans should take it seriously. The Trump administration should not repeat Obama’s mistakes. Instead, it should continue to develop strategies designed to prevent the Kremlin from conducting these types of operations against America. But the left’s alarmism is not an appropriate response and can be seen as a cynical attempt to use fear to manipulate the American public. Perez’s statement was not only designed to conjure fears of continued interference, but to tie Moscow’s actions to President Trump, even though the Mueller Report found no evidence of collusion. In the end, the Democrats’ supposed concern over Russian meddling appears to be another deceptive political attack against the president – and considering the special counsel’s findings, it’s unlikely to be an effective one.
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