We Need Unity When it Comes to Russian Influence in Our Democracy
Last week, top American intelligence officials testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, warning senators that Russia would attempt to meddle in the upcoming midterm elections. Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, said on the record that Russia would mirror the tactics used during the 2016 election, “using propaganda, social media, false-flag personas, sympathetic spokespeople and other means of influence to try to exacerbate social and political fissures in the United States.”
Over the last week, we have learned that Russian nationals posed as U.S. citizens online, used divisive social media strategies, and even traveled to the United States to collect information that helped exacerbate partisan divisions in American politics. Although the most recent development has cemented the reality of Russian involvement in the 2016 election, President Trump has doubled down on his claim that Russia’s meddling played no role in its outcome. He even refused to admit that he had denied Russian involvement in the election, despite multiple statements over the course his campaign and presidency that said just that. Instead of criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Trump has kept quiet, pointing to a lack of evidence supporting claims of collusion between the Trump Campaign and Russian nationals and blaming President Obama for being too weak on Russia during his presidency.
The reality is this:
Authorities estimate that 126 million Americans were exposed to Russian-sponsored advertisements on Facebook during the 2016 election -- that’s just 20 million less than the total number of people who voted in 2016. And although authorities can’t say if Russian interference turned the tide of the 2016 election, that’s not the point. No matter who you voted for in the last election -- or who you plan to vote for come this November -- we must all agree that the sanctity of American democracy is more important than any one political agenda.
Russia’s attempts to sow discord must be met with strong condemnation by all American leaders. Our representative, Jim Jordan, has focused all of his attention on partisan attacks - focusing not on the potential threats posed by Russian interference, but instead criticizing the hardworking men and women of the FBI who are fighting to prevent further Russian influence. In recent days, he has remained entirely silent on the issue at a time when Americans should be coming together to decry Russian infringement on our democracy.
Frankly, we deserve elected officials who are willing to uphold the commitment they make to the U.S. Constitution.
I look forward to seeing some of you tomorrow at our campaign kick off in Elyria to talk more about why that’s a commitment I don’t take lightly. We’ll talk about this issue and so many more because you deserve a representative to Congress who’s willing to have these important conversations and stand up for what’s right.
See you then!