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Please Stop Saying the Russians Didn't Alter Any Votes in the 2016 Election

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | June 21, 2017 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | June 21, 2017 |

Earlier today during a hearing in front of the House Intelligence Committee, former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson revealed once again (for those in the cheap seats) that Vladimir Putin orchestrated cyber attacks on our nation for the purpose of influencing our election. “That is a fact, plain and simple,” he said.

However, he also added that he knew “of no evidence that through cyber intrusion, votes were altered or suppressed in some way” by the Russians.

That is such unbelievable bullshit, but it’s something the Republicans insist on bringing up at every one of these hearings. “Yes,” they will concede. “The Russians orchestrated an attack on our election system. But they didn’t change any votes, so Donald Trump is a totally legit President!”

Bullshit. Bullshit. Bullshit.

No, the votes may not have been altered at the ballot box, but they sure as hell were altered in the minds of many voters. Donald Trump’s electoral college margin of victory was 80,000 people in three states. No one thinks that months of round-the-clock media coverage of email leaks that overshadowed Hillary Clinton’s message altered anyone’s vote? No one thinks that the political hay the Republicans made over private conversations from leaked emails changed any minds? No one thinks that the literal fake news (not the Donald Trump “fake news”) that the Russians spread online about Hillary Clinton cost her a few votes? We spent a week on a bullshit story about her health that the Russians helped to propagate. The Russians helped to spread a story suggesting that Hillary ran a child pedophile ring out of a pizza parlor. And no one thinks that altered the beliefs of voters?

If the Russians had leaked the dossier on Trump before the election, and spread it wide across the Internet, how many votes would that have changed? And how furious would Trump have been?

For six months, the Russians gave Donald Trump a constant source of ammunition. They disseminated lies on the Internet, and Donald Trump used those lies against Hillary Clinton. The Russians were Donald Trump’s oppo team. They were basically the equivalent of $100 million in negative ads for a candidate who only managed to raise half of the campaign funds that Hillary Clinton raised.

And no one thinks any votes were altered?

Go fuck yourselves. The President had a fucking world-power working for him, the backing of an entire government and he still lost the popular vote by 3 million.

Members of Congress at these intelligence committee hearings often ask if the Russian cyberattack was a success. Well, let’s see: They had three goals. To sow discord, to delegitimize the United States’ election process, and denigrate Secretary Clinton and attempt to help now-President Trump.

Did it work? Hell yes, it worked. There’s never been more discord in this country. They certainly managed to denigrate Hillary Clinton, and yeah: They delegitimized the election process. These intelligence officials only want to look at the ballot boxes, but none of them seem willing to admit what is crystal fucking clear: The Russian efforts changed outcomes.

Russian interference, in fact, is still screwing with our country. You think Trump would be freaking out all the time, or as paranoid as he is if he’d won fair and square? He hands out electoral maps in official goddamn meetings because he doesn’t want anyone to suspect the truth: The election was rigged. You know how many times I’ve seen pull quotes from those hacked emails on social media, usually taken out of context to support wild assertions? Does no one think that has an effect on the electorate, even if it is to discourage Democrats from going to the polls?

128 million votes were cast in 2016, and no one thinks that a massive influence campaign backed by a superpower affected any of those votes? Like, maybe 80,000 of them in three key swing states? No? Nobody?

There are a lot of reasons that Hillary Clinton didn’t win the election — racism, xenophobia, cultural illiteracy, James Comey, that private email server, Clinton’s own personal failings as a candidate — but none of that would’ve mattered had it not been for the Russians, who used social media to highlight those failings, to spread racism and xenophobia, and to take advantage of cultural illiteracy. This isn’t leftist propaganda. This isn’t liberal tears. This is common fucking sense. If someone started a massive, months-long whisper campaign against you in the school yard, you can bet your ass that a few of your friends will eventually turn against you.

So, please, spare me the “no votes were altered” bullshit. Donald Trump is an illegitimate President who won thanks to ill-gotten gains from our biggest geopolitical enemy. Period. So when entitled assholes like Michael Bloomberg tell us to “get behind” our leader because “the public has spoken,” as he did today, you say, ‘Sure. I’d love to. Just give her the goddamn Presidency.”