Guest Opinion: Is Russia undermining out democracy? No, we’ve been doing that ourselves

It is “genuinely absurd,” historian Jackson Lears writes, when a former director of the FBI — that with the CIA and NSA “has long been one of the gravest threats to democracy in America” — solemnly warns us “of the threat to democracy posed by Russian meddling in the election.” Despite their assault on democracy, historian Stephen Cohen argues, “most mainstream American media and leading Democrats in particular are exalting them as paragons” of verified information.
Did Russians write the Constitution that denied democratic rights to nearly all Americans? It was created by powerful men of wealth — some of whom owned slaves. From the founding, this country has been run by such men, who have had total contempt for democracy.
Many of our vital public institutions, such as the military, police and intelligence services, are not run democratically, and the workplace is profoundly undemocratic. The decision to make war is not even discussed by Congress, which has not followed the constitutional mandate to declare war since June 1942. Every conflict since has been decided by presidents and elite members of the executive branch. Is Russia to blame for this catastrophic assault on democracy?
Did Russia organize the corruption of our democracy by the billionaire class, so that Sheldon Adelson, the Koch brothers and other rich individuals influence both parties and poison our electoral process?
Scholars Benjamin Page and Martin Gilens conclude that “the best evidence indicates that the wishes of ordinary Americans actually have little or no impact on the making of federal government policy.” Readers know that rich individuals and corporations have real political power in the nation, and that the public is “virtually powerless.” Is Russia to blame for this state of affairs?
Did Russia create the profoundly undemocratic Electoral College, which made it possible for Hillary Clinton to receive 3 million more votes than Donald Trump and not become president?
Our democracy is corrupted by foreign powers, but the two most prominent are ignored. One is Israel — through the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) that has exercised powerful influence in Washington, which has spent more than $100 billion dollars arming and funding Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinians. Is Russia responsible for this Israeli intrusion into our democratic processes?
The other destructive foreign influence is Saudi Arabia, which has lobbied Congress and funded the Clinton Foundation and key think tanks. Despite all the outrage about Russia undermining our democracy, media and political figures have been virtually silent about Saudi interference in our country — including their alleged funding of the 9/11 terrorists. Was Russia responsible?
Our democracy has been corrupted by Washington’s interference in foreign elections, led by the CIA. According to a recent study reported in the New York Times, the U.S. has run 81 “overt and covert election influence operations” since 1946. It overthrew governments and engaged in assassinations, all violations of international law. Is Russia responsible for these actions, done secretly so we don’t know what our government is doing — an essential foundation of a democratic society?
The U.S. intervened in the Russian re-election of Boris Yeltsin in 1996, organized by the Clinton administration and supported by a compliant media. Yeltsin presided over the greatest looting and devastation of a modern society in history, yet corporate media and U.S. officials led by Clinton lavished great praise on him. Stephen Cohen points out that despite a “human crisis of monumental proportions” under Yeltsin, the Clinton administration engaged in an “official crusade” as U.S. citizens “gave money to favored Russian politicians, instructed ministers, drafted legislation and presidential degrees, underwrote textbooks, and served at Yeltsin’s re-election headquarters.”
Did Russia rig the Democratic primaries against Bernie Sanders, or was it the Democratic National Committee (DNC)? Will Sanders’ supporters deal with the attack on their candidate or join the Russo-phobic rhetoric that is heightening tensions with that nation?
Cohen thinks we are in the most dangerous period in history since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, a crisis that is being fueled by those who would rather attack Russia and risk a nuclear war; who reveal, as producer Aaron Mate of The Real News writes, “that the greater threats to democratic norms are perhaps much closer to home.”
— John Marciano of Talent is co-author of the forthcoming “The Russians Are Coming, Again: The First Cold War as Tragedy, the Second as Farce.”

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