The Russians employed “active measures” against the United States and undermined our election process. We should remain skeptical of the results, not optimistic. Putin’s congratulations to President-elect Trump may signify a few things. It could be sincere, but it’s likely just part of his calculus. Russia played a role in this election, and it’s alarming.
That said, Trump’s unlikely ascent to the presidency might be representative of the beginnings of something that’s embedded in the very fabric of Western existence: revolution. It began in the French Revolution, and we’ve been either revolting, questioning authority, or exporting revolution ever since.
Ignoring Russian influence on Trump’s success, rural communities that have heard Trump lament minorities and other people with whom they have limited interaction have put their thumbs on the scale in this election, too. A lot of people are seriously concerned about limitations imposed on coal mining and fossil fuel refining. It means jobs for so many. This country cannot inhale massive unemployment and walk away unscathed. We have people in rural Illinois living in similar levels of poverty to people in Iraq.
We have taken what the country has to offer for granted. When someone feels stuck, telling them “you can do whatever you want in America” sounds like fiction. The vote, a beautiful thing that everyone gets, made it clear that our disenfranchised countrymen want in on that dream, too.
There has been an explosion of change—maybe more change than some can wrap their heads around. Machiavelli tells us that people do not vote on reality: They vote on what ought to be, not what is, and they want Washington to work for them. Who better to fit that requirement than a non-politician.
So we’ve established that the Trump campaign reached a section of American voters that heretofore had felt ignored or abandoned and drew upon their success to gain traction. But there’s no ignoring Russia and the role they played in this election. The intelligence community was not politicizing an election when reports emerged that the Russians were attempting to influence our electoral process and the vote.
In fact, the Russians call it “active measures” and this trend has been ongoing and around for a long time. It is something we used to take part in, and it’s called political action. But it’s something we haven’t done in some time. Many modern policymakers believe it to be too intrusive or aggressive, and not reflective of the character of the United States.
There is a great game at play. Just like when you don’t know who the sucker is at the poker table—it’s you—if you aren’t engaging in the ongoing war of nation states for influence and resources, you’ll lose.
Featured image courtesy of LinkedIn.