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The Problem With Fearmongering About Russian Electoral Interference

February 24, 2020
Joseph Haker and Andrew Paul
This is a summary of an article originally published by The Washington Post. 

The authors write: “Over the past three years, it has become conventional wisdom among many liberals that American democracy is under attack by foreign state actors. Russia in particular has been accused of dividing Americans through the spread of ‘disinformation’ to engineer specific electoral outcomes—notably the election of Donald Trump. These calls have resurfaced with allegations that Russia may be trying to help Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary. ... Throughout American history, various political actors have delegitimized or suppressed internal discontent by blaming discord on the conniving of foreign actors. Whether cynical or well-intentioned, these arguments work to suppress the messiness and hard work of democracy in favor of a bland, compulsory nationalism. And blaming outsiders distracts attention from the very real domestic problems that make ‘disinformation’ campaigns coherent in the first place. ... Trying to unite the nation by blaming its problems on foreign actors and outsiders promotes the status quo and undermines meaningful efforts at structural change. … The reinvigoration of American democracy does not depend on purging it of all foreign influence. It depends on giving disaffected people a reason to have faith in the first place.”

Read the full article at The Washington Post.


Joseph Haker

Joseph Haker is adjunct faculty in history at Century College and a lecturer at the University of Minnesota.


Andrew Paul

Andrew Paul is an adjunct assistant professor of humanities at the University of North Carolina Asheville.

U.S. Embassy photo by Un Yarat.