On July 25, the Senate Intelligence Committee released the report “Russian Efforts Against Election Infrastructure,” the first volume in the committee’s bipartisan investigation into Russia’s attempts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. election.
It has not gotten much coverage, which is very unfortunate. The report goes into detail, with many redactions as to Russian attempts to infiltrate the states’ voting systems. The committee members believe that the Russians have probed all 50 states. The majority and minority reports did not disagree on the underlying findings that the Russians attempted to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. It is also undisputed that they expect the Russians and many others to engage in such activity in the 2020 presidential election. The dispute was how to address the problem; either keeping the traditional role of each state having autonomy with the federal government playing a small role, or having the federal government take the lead.
How the committee operated in the investigation and the preparation of the report is a model of how our government should work. Both parties put aside their partisanship and worked together to address a major problem. This was no small feat. For the Republican members of the committee, they knew that a strong voice against Russia would run up against the president, who is still in denial about Russian influence in the 2016 election. Two Democratic members of the committee, Michael Bennett and Kamala Harris, are running for president. There were some lines in the report that may upset the progressives and others who do not want Democrats to work with Republicans. Bennett and Harris’s cooperation may hurt them with this group.
The irony is that the lack of bickering and partisanship may be the reason why the report is not getting the coverage that it deserves. This is a very polarized society. The president has proven many times that being obnoxious and divisive is a great way to get coverage. Many say that this helped him get elected in 2016.
For example, on July 27, Trump tweeted that “Cumming [sic] District is a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess. If he spent more time in Baltimore, maybe he could help clean up this very dangerous & filthy place.” “Why is so much money sent to the Elijah Cummings’ district when it is considered the worst run and most dangerous anywhere in the United States? No human being would want to live there.”
It is not only the president who uses personal attacks to receive media coverage. In the first Democratic presidential debate, the most coverage was Kamala Harris’s attack on Joe Biden. There was little concerning the candidates’ policy positions. It helped Harris increase her poll numbers. Likewise, it is believed by many that negative attack ads are more effective than positive messages.
Some say that there are boundaries. However, we see almost day by day that anything goes. Even when a statement is made that in the past would have resulted in universal condemnation, there is a significant group that defends the statement. Therefore, this country has not yet come to grips with the destructive nature of such comments.
We Jews should know otherwise. The Talmud tells us that the Second Temple was destroyed because of senseless hatred. People in this country need to stand up and say enough is enough. Until they do, the race to the bottom will continue.