The Special Counsel has indicted three Russian businesses and 13 individuals for attempting to influence our 2016 elections. The report tells us that they had a budget of over than $1.3 million a month devoted to spreading distrust and false information about one candidate or another. If they started in 2014 that means they spent over $40 million attempting to disrupt our election. They used a reported 80,000 entries on Facebook and other social media sites. They even came to the U.S. to organize demonstrations and give the appearance they were U.S. citizens.
Have these charges been adjudicated in court? No. That will never occur considering that Russia is will not extradite them to the U.S. for trial. Are the charges true? The evidence is overwhelming. The key question to be answered is, “Was this effort to influence the vote in our 2016 elections successful?” The tag line on the indictment says, “There is no evidence the Russians influenced the 2016 election.” Really? Read on and form your own conclusions.
Just how close was the election for president last year? It was very close. The winner did not win the popular vote and the electoral vote depended on results of the vote in just three states, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. The votes cast in those three states totaled 13,237,233. The winner polled a combined 82,253 more votes than the loser. Thus, a change of 41,126 votes would have swung the 46 electoral votes in those three states to the runner-up. That would have made the electoral vote 278 to 260 for the other candidate. Thus, the eventual winner polled only 1.7 percent more votes than the runner-up in those three states.
Taken in a larger context, there were 128,838,786 votes cast in the 2016 election. With the margin of victory at 41,126, we are talking about a fraction of one percent of the total vote. So, what would it take to sway the votes of just a fraction of one percent of those who voted?
Evidently, a portion of our population believes whatever they read. A poll taken late last year revealed that 30 percent of our population still believe that President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S. and was not qualified to run for president. That, despite the fact the charge has been debunked by every credible source imaginable, including our current president.
Research has proven that if we cay something often enough, eventually a part of the public will begin to believe it. “Bill and Hillary Clinton are involved in child sex trafficking.” Does that sound ridiculous? Yet, a man from North Carolina showed up in a Washington D.C. pizza restaurant where it was supposedly going on, and fired off his gun because he believed it. Lest you think that no one believes all of that “fiction” on the Internet, the evidence indicates that some do.
So, did the Russians influence our 2016 election? Considering how close the election was; considering a budget of more than $1.3 million a month devoted to spreading discord and bias; considering a reported 80,000 posts on sites designed to favor one candidate over another; considering the tendency of some in our citizenry to believe whatever is written, no matter how preposterous; do you think the Russians influenced our election? How could they not?
What can we do about it? Not much. Can the Democrats get the election back? Not a chance. Why not? Without going into the mind of every voter we have no evidence voters were influenced by all of the social media misdirection.
So, what should we do? Forewarned is forearmed. We must make sure it never happens again.
— You can reach Dr. Mark L. Hopkins at firstname.lastname@example.org. Books by Hopkins, “Journey to Gettysburg, The Wounds of War, The World as it was When Jesus Came,” and “Facts & Opinions on the Issues of our Time,” can be acquired at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and through the E-mail above.