An Essay On Foreign Intervention in Elections

On December 29, 2016, departing President of the United States Barack Obama imposed sanctions and ordered the removal of Russian diplomats, due to allegations that the Russian government had hacked the Democratic National Committee.

On January 6th, each and every American intelligence agency stated that Putin ordered an “influence campaign” to alter and interfere with the United States election so that they could reap an outcome beneficial to Russian interests.

The outcome of this interference, however, is dubious at best. It was no secret that Hillary Clinton was a terrible candidate, because of the fact that super-delegates were even necessary to help her defeat democratic-socialist Bernie Sanders. Not only that, but the Democrats even had to feed her debate answers so that she could beat the candidate the people of the Democratic party actually wanted. The insinuation that Hillary Clinton was even a good candidate, due to the Democratic primary, is circumspect at best. She just couldn’t appeal to her base, garnering less votes than Barack Obama did in 2012.

Impact analysis of the Russian hacking scandal aside, we should repudiate Russia for hacking into our election. It’s inexcusable, and we should take necessary action to make sure this never happens again.

But first, we should repudiate ourselves. According to Los Angeles Times reporter Nina Agrawal, the United States is no stranger to interfering in elections. Her source, Carnegie Mellon University’s resident political scientist Don Levin, created and gathered data on our interferences, dating from 1946 to 2000, and that data was shocking.

As a nation, we’ve interfered in 89 sovereign nation’s elections.

Eighty. Nine.

Americans need to repudiate Russian interference, but first we must examine our own worldview concerning foreign policy. Consequentialism, the belief that the ends justify the means, has been tried. It’s also been proven to be a failure. The defining failure of American consequentialism was in the 1960s, with the Vietnam War, when our government decided it knew better than the people of Vietnam.

By no means am I saying communism works–it doesn’t. However, propping up dictator Ngo Dinh Diem was just as morally bankrupt and flawed as the spread of communism. This was a man who halted free elections and brutalized the Buddhist people of Vietnam. In the government’s eyes, though, the ends justified the means. Anything was permissible in the march against communism.

However, we continued down this path in our foreign policy worldview, and the world is has made is, I would argue, vastly more dangerous. We, as the United States, can no longer advocate for a higher moral standard from nations abroad because we are operating in a plane of delusion where we somehow, in some way, have the moral high ground. We don’t, as evidenced in the Vietnam War.

Before we repudiate Russia, we must shift our worldview to be more deontological. We must view the morality of the consequences and the actions we must take to get there. We can’t be leaders of the growing global community if we’re morally compromised, and we certainly can’t call ourselves the bastion of freedom and liberty if we do not acknowledge and repudiate how we have propped up dictators in the past.

This is something both sides of the aisle, and every political ideology in America in between, should get behind. If we want to say we are the greatest way to spread democracy in the world, we need to both acknowledge that we haven’t done that in the past, and work hard to not enable it in the future.