Over a dozen U.S. Intelligence Agencies have pointed to Russians hacking and interfering with the 2016 U.S. election. For years experts have said the next form of attack will be cyber and questions were raised if we were ready. Well, this is potentially a direct cyber attack on an American institution we hold dear, free and open elections. The serious allegations should cause alarm and create a united people demanding answers.
Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. The reaction by some has been downright disheartening. Headlines of “Russia Hacks U.S. Elections” have been met with a shrug of the shoulders. From dismissing the claims as “sour grapes” by those who lost and they should just “get over it,” to snarky memes that take humor in these revelations. The gravity of the situation seems to escape some.
I’ve spent some time asking myself how in the world Americans can simply dismiss these allegations. Then on Sunday former U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan wrote a Facebook post. (Full disclosure: Dorgan was my boss directly out of college. I have a bias and a hell of a lot of respect for him.) Dorgan lays out what he thinks should take place as a response. Even handed and direct was the position. Reading the comments, it became vividly clear why some are able to dismiss it. Partisan politics.
Some people have become so blinded by partisan politics that they can’t get pass the word “election” in these allegations. Some are so engrained in the “us versus them” mentality they’re using this as another opportunity to say they “won”. The alarming thing is, “us versus them” isn’t America versus a foreign power, it is Democrat versus Republican, American versus American. Rather than a dispute between sovereign countries, it is a dispute between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in their minds.
So I find myself asking the question, what if we replaced the word “election” with anything else? Would it anger people enough to take these allegations seriously? Imagine any of the following: “Russians hack U.S. Electrical Grid.” “Russians Hack U.S. Financial Services.” “Russians Hack American Health Records.” Would the implications of any of those scenarios unite the country to get over partisan politics to say, “Damnit this is the United States of America, and what this foreign power did pisses me off and we’re going to correct it.” Or am I being nostalgic? Am I yearning for the unity that once was? Surely, I cannot be the only one.
It is long overdue that we put patriotism above partisanship.