Like an Internet meme promoting a narrative, many now say Russia’s online propaganda in America was focused on interfering with the 2016 elections. Federal and state lawmakers introduced bills, some of which became law, on this predicate. But two reports recently released by the Senate Intelligence Committee suggest this premise is mistaken. As the 116th Congress and new state legislative sessions convene in 2019, lawmakers and their staff should carefully study these reports before they act. The reports reveal how the Russian efforts go far beyond election interference. The real goal is outright sabotage by tearing apart America’s social fabric.
Since 2016, states such as New York and Maryland have enacted laws that purport to address Russian interference with U.S. elections. Members of Congress also have justified bills such as the “Honest Ads Act” and “DISCLOSE Act” on this basis. This focus misses the proverbial forest for the trees. As a result, the legislative reaction is misguided and unnecessarily burdens core First Amendment speech. Ironically, these efforts advance Russia’s sabotage.
I deleted my Twitter account. It’s a breeding ground for thoughtlessness and contempt.
The 2020 election is vulnerable. Congress needs to guard against attacks starting now.