In 1953, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were found guilty of “conspiracy to commit espionage” and executed for sharing top-secret information about the U.S. nuclear program with the Soviet Union.
At that time, the United States and the Soviet Union were embroiled in a cold war that lasted from 1947 until 1991. For decades, Americans lived in dread of falling under the control of communist Russia — as bleak and unjust a society as the world has ever known.
Today’s Russians are allowed many of the freedoms of capitalism, but Russia remains an ugly and menacing stain on humanity. The Kremlin is led by a ruthless, shady dictator who was once an officer in the KGB, the Soviets’ version of the CIA. Moreover, Vladimir Putin seems intent on fulfilling the famous threat issued by communist leader Nikita Kruschev in 1956: “We will bury you.”
During the 2016 U.S. election, Putin showed how he’d do it. His minions hacked into our voter databases and voting systems. They identified vulnerable voters in politically strategic districts and overwhelmed them with propaganda and lies to harm Hillary Clinton and turn voters against each other. They played the divide-and-conquer game that Scott Walker once bragged about to a billionaire Republican donor.
As Putin acknowledged during a news conference with a strangely subservient Donald Trump in Helsinki, he wanted Trump to win — and win he did, overcoming great odds.
Russia’s war against the United States is not your grandfather’s kind of war. It’s being fought by an army composed of hackers instead of soldiers. But it’s a war that can topple nations.
So it’s beyond shocking that Trump and other top Republicans have never evinced any concern about Russian interference in our elections. Clean, fair elections are the beating heart of our democracy. Allowing them to fall under the control of a hostile enemy state would be the end of the American experiment.
The leaders turning a blind eye to Putin are the same leaders who are terrified about letting Latin American and Muslim refugees enter the country. They can’t abide the lack of patriotism shown by NFL players who take a knee during the national anthem.
But Russia interfering in our elections is OK?
Instead of reacting with force, Trump, top Republicans and Fox News have tried convincing Americans not to believe what the nation’s best intelligence officials insist is true. Republican leaders repeatedly have tried to halt the Mueller investigation into election interference. After holding 21 pointless investigations into Benghazi, they say that Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s hacking of U.S. elections is a politically motivated waste of time.
With the midterm election coming up in November, security officials are warning that Russian meddlers are stepping up their activities again. U.S. intelligence has named Wisconsin as one of the states with significant election system vulnerability. In 2016, Russians probed the websites of state government agencies and utilized social media to propagandize voters in the state.
Yet, as with Trump, we’ve seen no leadership from Walker on safeguarding the state’s election system. Is it possible that Walker and Trump believe Russia is on their side? Their behavior suggests that they have nothing to lose from Russian interference.
The governor, like the president, is no fan of the right to vote. He’s done everything in his power to make it more onerous to exercise that right. He tried to avoid holding two special elections earlier this year, his attitude toward voting is despicable. Failing to do everything in his power to ensure our elections are safe from meddling is criminal.
Wisconsinites and all Americans must insist their leaders cooperate fully with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation until it’s completed. Any further attempts to halt it or failure to safeguard our Constitution’s most essential tradition — clean elections — is not patriotic.