Tuesday in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Trump’s pick for Ambassador to Russia, John Huntsman said:
“There is no question, underline no question, that the Russian government interfered in the U.S. election last year, and Moscow continues to meddle in the democratic processes of our friends and allies.”
This past Saturday morning, before the Juggalos and the #MAGA supporters took to the Capitol, a small group of congressional candidates and their supporters held a rally calling for a more serious look into the Russian interference in the 2016 elections.
The rally was organized by the 4DPAC, a political action committee with the longer title Democracy, Diplomacy, Development, and Defense PAC. 4DPAC’s website says their mission is “to promote American leadership in the world based on American values. We work to elect leaders that believe in the value of progressive American leadership.”
The PAC is minimally backed and started by people from other Democratic Party related groups. As the great Juggalo/MAGA battle never came to fruition, this rally and march ended up being the true counter to the “Mother of All Rallies.”
As the current occupant of Maryland’s 6th congressional district looks to run for Governor, the Democratic Primary there has attracted six candidates. One of them is Andrew Duck, a founder of the Our Revolution branch in Western Maryland and a long time progressive.
Duck is concerned with a lot of things going on in America these days, but watching the change in American discourse being influenced by likely Russian trolls is near the top.
“We need to make sure that we track it, we identify exactly how they did it and that requires a thorough counter-intelligence investigation, and determine who assisted them. And if facebook is one of the folks that assisted them, find out if they did it knowingly or unknowingly and how that was done. I will tell you that the interference that occurred in 2016 is continuing, I have had bots hit my campaign website.”
Considering a July 2017 poll from PPP said that “72% of Trump voters consider the whole Russia story to be ‘fake news,’ [and ] only 14% think it’s real story” – it’s going to be a problem in the coming years if the Russian government attacks continue and there is no push from the party in control of government to actually deal with it.
The man taking on Dave Bratt, the Breitbart/Steve Bannon handpicked candidate, agrees.
Dan Ward, one of the Democrats running for the Virginia 7th District has spent his time around authoritarian leadership and seen first hand Russian interference in governments.
“I feel that our democracy is under attack. I’ve spent my entire career around authoritarians, I know what it is, I was in Ukraine in 09, 10, and 11 under Yanakovich… and it’s happening here. They’re attacking the very pillars of our democracy, whether it’s the media, whether it’s anyone who disagrees with their line of thought and it’s time to stop it. Our constitutions can handle presidents like Trump. But it cannot handle a president like Trump with a complicit congress and that’s what we have right now.”
Ward sees the influence affecting not just our 2016 election, but how we as Americans interact. The ads that Russian operatives bought on Facebook in 2016 were meant specifically to stir discontent amongst Americans.
“These people [looking towards the White House] are playing the Russian playbook, hook line and sinker – the people that the Nazi’s and the KKK members I saw in Charlottesville reminded me of the thugs that I saw in Ukraine that were beating the crap out of those kids [demonstrators early in Euromaidan]… it’s an assault on our country. That was my hometown, and that’s not acceptable.”
The violence in Charlottesville wasn’t just a story in the news for him. He too, questioned the how the police reacted to the violence of the white supremacists on the ground there.
“One of my biggest supporters daughters was punched in the face by a Nazi or a KKK… there was a lawyer that witnessed it, went to the police and said arrest this man, he just assaulted this woman… nothing. How do you square that away?”
It’s a good question, one that I’m still trying to find out.
Both Duck and Ward are running on progressive tickets, supporting Medicare for All and DACA.
It’s hard to say this early on if they’ll be able to ride the line between the more progressive Bernie wing of the Democratic Party and the more… shall we say… Clinton wing that seems to be more interested in the Russia inquiry than pushing new initiatives. But each of these candidates seem to have a mutually agreeable angle on Russian meddling in the elections – it’s not about 2016 – it’s about the future of our country and how with the continual interference of a third party we’ll all actually be able to get along.