In last week’s Queens Jewish Link there must have been a half a dozen columns attacking the Democratic Party and/or specific members of the Democratic Party. Not one Republican was criticized. It is somewhat repetitious reading one article after another with the same theme. My initial reaction is to respond to counterbalance the one-sidedness of the paper. However, this week, as I did the past few weeks, I will not specifically limit my discussion to the president.
I read the first part of the Mueller report that relates to Russian attempts to influence our election. I am not naive to believe that our country does not engage in the same tactics that are used by the CIA. I remember reading a book by Phillip Agee called Inside the CIA, in which the CIA “influenced foreign elections.”
I would expect universal condemnation of the Russians tactics. The Russians have to understand that we know that they tried to influence our presidential election in 2016 and that they better not try it again in 2020. As Michael McFaul (the former ambassador to Russia) pointed out, Trump and his supporters should be upset because the Russian tactics have put a cloud on his victory since they believe that he would have won anyway. There is no way to determine how many votes or people not voting was due to the Russian tactics. The Russian effort gives a small group of Trump critics the ability to claim that Trump would have not won but for Russia’s help.
The Russians use these tactics because they understand human nature. There was a famous expression that “it does not matter if you win or lose but how you play the game.” That idea is long gone in our society. It has been replaced by the idea that “winning is not everything; it’s the only thing.” Therefore, when the Russians came calling to members of the Trump campaign that they had dirt on Hillary Clinton, there was not any hesitation. They did not call the FBI but instead met with the Russians. The president famously made the comment that “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”
Rudy Giuliani said in response to the Mueller report that “there is nothing wrong with taking information from Russians.”
Another tactic by the Russians was the use of false Facebook or other Internet sites to spread disinformation about Hillary Clinton or otherwise stir discord. If you spend any time watching Fox or CNN addressing politics, you think you are in two different universes.
As polarizing as the networks are, they are nothing compared to the garbage you see on the Internet. Anyone can put something out no matter how outlandish and it gets picked up and looked at by many people. Conspiracy theories thrive on social media. It is not mere coincidence that many of the mass shooters had social media accounts or became radicalized by what they saw on social media. People believe what they want to believe and disregard the rest.
If we took a deep breath and took a step back, we would realize that even those we may disagree with have redeeming qualities. There is nothing wrong with disagreeing with each other but doing it in a civil manner and looking for common ground.
I do not know if Joe Biden will obtain the Democratic nomination, but his popularity has shown that the majority of the Democratic Party are moderates. The progressive wing makes all the noise, but they are not the majority, neither in Congress nor in the party. The other Democratic presidential candidates were busy listening to the noise and some have moved to the left to their peril.
As one of the writers of a letter to the editor in last week’s paper pointed out, there are good and bad Democrats and Republicans. We need to move past labels and look at each person with an open mind. No matter who they are it is important to judge and even criticize those who may be a member of the same political party as we are. Likewise, it is important to give credit when credit is due.
We also need to understand that there are hostile powers that are trying their hardest to tear this country apart. We cannot let them.