Eddyville, KY


Hacking not as troubling as lack of responsiblity

Monday, December 12, 2016 - Updated: 4:11 PM

Political pundits on both sides are drawing a crooked line down the middle of the next issue of debate, Russia's involvement in the 2016 presidential election.

According to intelligence reports released over the last few months, Russian hackers made their way onto servers with both Republican and Democrat party headquarters. These "attacks" led to the release of unflattering emails that may have impacted undecided voters.

There's a few problems here on why anyone should get too upset.

For starters, it didn't have much of an impact on the election because the number of voters who were undecided was relatively low. By some accounts (ok, really just this one) there were only two undecided voters, a couple in Ohio who ultimately decided to take the day off and play golf on Nov. 8.

More of an issue, though, is what was in the emails. Party members on both sides are concerned over the ability to a foreign power to read their mail, but no one is addressing the contents. Democratic committee staffers spoke freely in the emails against members of their own party, namely Bernie Sanders, the only candidate to challenge eventual nominee Hillary Clinton.

The fallout for the party has been largely overshadowed by president-elect Donald Trump's lapse of memory regarding comments about the hacks (despite discussing them a dozen times in debates and calling for Russia to hack Clinton's nefarious private server, Trump now says somebody should have brought the issue up months ago when it happened). The harassment of Tim Canova — opponent of then-chairwoman —Debbie Wasserman Schultz is just a footnote.

Which is troubling.

For so few in a party to decide the course of the body is against the idea of a democracy.

But, ultimately, the hollow fist shaking about Russia's involvement in hacked emails notes on a bigger problem: the fact that those emails weren't public in the first place.

Very little done through public emails on taxpayer time falls outside the scope of the Freedom of Information Act. Possibly one of the biggest tools in a free republic — save for the First Amendment — is the FOIA request, which allows anyone the right to find out what their government is doing.

It's a cornerstone of transparency. Unfortunately, no one was bothering to file requests for those emails. Or, if they were, the requests were being unanswered.

The interest of a foreign power in directing our country is troubling. About as troubling as court decisions like Citizens United, which allowed faceless companies to garner more favorable legislation by shaping elections. Or by irresponsible social media platforms still in their infancy, like Facebook and Twitter, which stumble around unsure of how to harness their power with responsibility.

The release of the Access Hollywood tape (where the leader of the world's largest Christian nation talked about sexually assaulting women) and leak of tax returns (where the head of the biggest economy in the world lost a billion dollars) were just as indirect at influencing voters. And the motives there were probably just as self-serving.

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