There is no dispute that the Russian government attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election with the intent to help Trump and hurt Clinton. In all probability, that attempted influence successfully impacted the outcome of the election. How So?
The co-ordination between IRA and the Trump campaign, social media activity and political activist groups, not to mention how Fox "News" and even legitimate news outlets covered the misinformation disseminated by IRA, had to have impacted how people voted. If not, all of the work done by political campaigns through grassroots activities had no impact on the election, and all of the "news" reporting had no impact on the election, and all of the campaign financing, grassroots or PACs had no impact on the election.
At the end of the day, Americans have allowed Putin to steal a presidential election from Hillary Clinton and install his own puppet sub-government in the USA, AND we are to this very day STILL operating under that Putin controlled puppet sub-government.
So how do we fix this, or indeed CAN we fix it? Do we merely treat this as normal politics? Have we done anything to prevent what Russia did in 2016 and may have expanded thereafter? Politicians and the press tell us everyday that this is not important to the American people. They say Americans are more concerned with things like health care and jobs and other things that affect their everyday lives. I have searched my brain's limited capacity, and I cannot come up with ANYTHING that is more important to me as an American, than the sovereignty of democracy in the USA. Can we fix this with politics? I don't believe politics presents an adequate solution to something that has sabotaged the very existence of democracy in the USA.
But I COULD be wrong.
For decades, Russia’s self-described “liberals” and “democrats” have touted the American political system as one their country should emulate. They have had abundant encouragement in this aspiration over the years from legions of American crusaders, who in the 1990s launched a large-scale, deeply intrusive, and ill-destined campaign to transform post-Communist Russia into a replica of American “democratic capitalism.” (See my book Failed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post-Communist Russia.) Some Russian liberals even favored NATO’s eastward expansion when it began in the late 1990s on the grounds that it would bring democratic values closer to Russia and protect their own political fortunes at home.
Their many opponents on Russia’s political spectrum, self-described “patriotic nationalists,” have insisted that the country must look instead to its own historical traditions for its future development and, still more, that American democracy was not a system to be so uncritically emulated. Not infrequently, they characterize Russia’s democrats as “fifth columnists” whose primary loyalties are to the West, not their own country. Understandably, it is a highly fraught political debate and both sides have supporters in high places, from the Kremlin and other government offices to military and security agencies, as well as devout media outlets.
In this regard, Russiagate allegations in the United States, which have grown from vague suspicions of Russian “meddling” in the 2016 presidential election to flat assertions that Putin’s Kremlin put Donald Trump in the White House, have seriously undermined Russian democrats and bolstered the arguments of their “patriotic” opponents. Americans, who may have been misled by their own media into thinking that Russia today is a heavily censored “autocracy” in which all information is controlled by the Kremlin, may be surprised to learn that many Russians, especially among the educated classes but not only, are well-informed about the Russiagate story and follow it with great interest. They get reasonably reliable information from Russian news broadcasts and TV talk shows; from direct cable and satellite access to Western broadcasts, including CNN; from translation sites that daily render scores of Western print news reports and commentaries into Russian (inosmi.ru being the most voluminous); and from the largely uncensored Internet.
How many Russians believe that the Kremlin actually put Trump in the White House is less clear. Widespread skepticism is often expressed sardonically: “If Putin can put his man in the White House, why can’t he put a mayor in my town who will have the garbage picked up?” Others, who believe the allegation, often take some pleasure, or schadenfreude, from it, having grown resentful of US “meddling” in Russian political life for so many years. (In recent history, the remembered example is the Clinton administration’s very substantial efforts on behalf of President Boris Yeltsin’s reelection in 1996.)
But what should interest us is how Russiagate allegations have tarnished America’s democratic reputation in Russia and thereby undermined the pro-American arguments of Russia’s liberal democrats, who were never a very potent political or electoral force and whose fortunes have already declined in recent years. Consider the following:
§ Russian democrats argue that their country’s elections are manipulated and unfair, including, but not only, those that put and kept Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin. “Patriotic nationalists” now reply that Russiagate rests on the allegation, widely reported and believed in the United States, that an American presidential election was successfully manipulated on behalf of the desired candidate and that the entire US electoral system may be vulnerable to manipulation.
§ Russian democrats protest that oligarchic and other money has corrupted Russian politics. Their opponents argue that special counsel Robert Mueller’s convictions and other indictments—in the cases of Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen, for example—prove that American political life is no less corrupt financially.