03:52 GMT +314 December 2018
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    Level Talk with John Harrison

    Myth of Russian Interference in US Election is 'Destroying American Democracy'

    Level Talk with John Harrison
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    Early in the morning of November 9, 2016, Hillary Clinton phoned Donald Trump and congratulated him on his win. There were all sorts of scapegoats, the biggest being Russia. Why did Hillary lose, and was it because of the Russians?

    Art Franczek, the president of the American Institute of Business and Economics in Moscow, and Dr. Tara McCormack, lecturer in politics and international relations at the University of Leicester, join the program.

    Tara describes the election as being very unusual, as two candidates — Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump — stood outside of the normal mainstream political parameters.

    “One of the ways that the election is being read back to us is that we had an unexpected loss of Hillary Clinton, but it was actually pretty clear throughout the campaign if one followed the polls, they were going up and down, the email revelations, Trump’s sexist comments, but the poll of polls was quite close … Hillary Clinton was not romping home … she represented continuity in a country that really wanted change."

    Art says that to understand why Clinton lost in 2016, one must look at why she lost in 2008. “Why did she lose? Obama essentially beat her over the head with her policy on the Iraq war. Hillary was a dyed-in-the-wool Neocon, very aggressive, anti-Russia, anti-Syria, anti-Libya, her pride and glory achievement as secretary of state was getting rid of Gaddafi … so Hillary has a thin ear to politics and this is ironic as she is married to one of the premier politicians of the age.”

    There was a conflict of opinions between her election campaign, President Minyon Moore and old school people like former President Bill Clinton, host John Harrison continues. Moore wished to use statistics to decide where Hillary should go, and the latter wanted her to get out and talk to people personally. When she did that, she was a star.

    Tara thinks that the main problem was actually that Hillary presumed she would win. “There was the assumption, that in many areas, Hillary didn’t really have to go out and do the leg work because she was the presumed winner.”

    In his turn, Art argues that “politics is emotion, not logic. People forget the emotions of Brexit, the emotions of the Rustbelt States, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, these people who lost their jobs because of China, this is where the emotion comes in and this is what Donald Trump tapped into.”

    In the second half of the program, the way that the Russia card was used as the reason why Hillary lost the election is discussed. The question is asked: “Why and how did the Russians come to be in the picture in the first place?”

    Tara argues: “We do not know who actually hacked the computers. There is a problem connected to all these cyberwar accusations in that it is very difficult to trace the instigators. It could well be groups linked to the Russian secret services, but we know that Britain, America, Russia, China, Iran and Israel are all engaged in massive cyber operations. The key point is, did it sway the election? I would argue that it didn’t. It had an effect but so did Trump’s comments. The emails that were released did not reveal anything not already known.”

    Art says that an article in The Washington Post came out that said that Vladimir Putin directly ordered the hacking. “But even this did not affect the election. … The primary reason that Hilary lost was a low African American turnout to the tune of around 5 million votes.”

    Using the Russian card was tried a bit in the UK after Brexit, but soon dismissed as being utterly ridiculous, Tara recalled. There have also been reports that Russia was trying to influence Germany, but in fact, the German secret service denied that. Also, the French have said the same thing, but a month or so later when nobody was listening; it was made clear that there was absolutely no evidence.

    “What is going on is this extraordinary refusal to engage with domestic politics. They would prefer to make the claim that the president of the most powerful superpower that the world has ever seen, is basically a Manchurian candidate put there by Vladimir Putin. What it is doing is destroying American democracy. Because you are saying to the American public that nothing matters, your votes don’t count, because Putin put Trump there. To me, that is the most shocking abandonment or abdication of key political responsibility, to take that path seems to me to be absolutely poisonous for America.”

    So Hillary Clinton lost the election because she wasn’t a good candidate. The Russian card was not decisive. Since then this card has continuously been played.

    Art concludes: “The Russian card is being used by American politicians to demonize Russia. Ninety-nine percent of the Senators acted in favor of the sanctions bill. Listen to the mainstream American media and you find that every day you are told that Russia violated our democracy, we have to punish them, and they are not trying to explain how gerrymandering and voter suppression violates our democracy much more than Russia does; the white voters are afraid that they are going to be a minority by 2030, that’s what happening now in 35 states. … The Brookings study shows that Hillary lost the election because of the weak African American vote. The Russian issue was a minimum issue. It’s a big lie that the Russians caused Donald Trump to be elected. It’s a big lie.”

    Tags:
    Hillary Clinton, United States
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