It has been a U.S. presidential campaign from hell—on that point I think the great majority of us can agree. We have had to endure more accusations and counter-accusations of sexual assault and straight-up rape than most municipal court systems probably see in a month. We have had to endure infantile back-and-forth name-calling, as well as the charge/countercharge of immorality and illegality on a near-daily basis. The debates have been more spectacle than informational. The leading contender for president, in some spheres, is a giant (and sweet) meteor of death, for Christ’s sake.
And yet, amidst all this vile sewer rot through which we have collectively waded over the past year, one particular aspect of this election season stands out as infinitely more troubling than all the rest. You have the singularly unique and shocking phenomenon of one American political institution—the Republican party—calling for and praising the assault on another (the Democratic party) by a hostile foreign entity.
I speak, of course, of Russian-backed Wikileaks and its relentless and one-sided assault of the Democratic party during this election season. Now, if you are a true American patriot, and care about the personal privacy of all American citizens and the integrity of our election process, how can you possibly advocate for, let alone encourage, the hacking of an American political institution for electoral gain?
Do you not care that Russia is working in its own interests in supporting Wikileaks behind the scenes? Do you not realize that throwing American politics into chaos serves the interests of Vladimir Putin and Russia? Do you not see that, no matter if it comports with your political views or not, a foreign power working to destabilize our elections hurts only us?
Have you no shame, or principles, to prevent you from seeing the black and white moral wrongness of supporting foreign intelligence penetrations of U.S. persons? Did you not become enraged that Hillary Clinton might have willfully allowed Russian and Chinese penetration of U.S. intelligence reports through her use of a private email server? Do you not then see the hypocrisy of calling on one of those same powers (via Wikileaks) to further penetrate U.S. computer systems?
It is almost completely unfathomable that some in the Republican party—including, most notably, the Republican nominee for president—are calling for a foreign power to spy on a rival political party and expose its inner communications. How the hell did we get here? Have these people lost their minds?
“But it is revealing the truth about Hillary Clinton and the Democrats,” some have said to me on Twitter.
“You can hate Wikileaks and still approve of what they are doing,” others have said.
Yes, I do hate Wikileaks. I despise Julian Assange (another accused sexual assaulter, by the way) for what he is doing to Americans’ privacy. I abhor Edward Snowden and his self-righteous theft of American secrets for what he saw as “the greater good.” So did most Republicans until this year. And I do not approve in the slightest of what Wikileaks is doing to Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.
Let us flip the script. What if the Iranians or Chinese were targeting Republican party internal communications, or those of Donald Trump himself, and exposing them to the world weeks before the election? Surely there would be outrage from the right. So how can some Republicans sit smugly and extol Julian Assange and Wikileaks, and what they are doing to the Democrats? Are you kidding me?
One congressional Republican even recently Tweeted “thank God for Wikileaks.” Then there was Sean Hannity, who had Assange on his radio show, and rained a golden shower of his best fawning Hannity love down on him, which is usually reserved (lately) only for Trump and those immersed in Trump world.
Let us not mince words here. This hero worship of Assange and Wikileaks is repugnant, politically expedient, and embarrassing. Republicans engaging in it should be ashamed, and I predict a reckoning is on its way for the GOP. Real soon.