Scott Gilmore in MacLean’s describes how Americans are starting to respond to confirmation of Russian interference in the recent presidential elections.
Some of the most important moments in history happen fast, like a flash of lightning. A tank crosses a border or a prince is assassinated and everyone knows the world has changed, even before the sound of thunder rolls over them.
Other epochal shifts are more subtle and incremental. In 18th-century England, very few people would have known what a Spinning Jenny was, and fewer still would recognize what the automation of weaving meant for the world.
For the last two years we have been living through one of those less obvious historic transformations. It didn’t happen all at once, it’s still not over, and even now we can’t say how deep or far it will go. But it happened, moment by moment, until we woke up in a cold day in December and realized that Moscow had effectively installed the next president of the United States.
That sounds hyperbolic, doesn’t it? Even writing it I have to pause and stare at that sentence. But these are the facts: The CIA and over a dozen other U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded Russia hacked into both the Republican and Democratic party computers. Senior Russian officials have admitted that they leaked the Democratic data to WikiLeaks. Those emails were then strategically published over the course of the presidential campaign. Why? A member of the House Intelligence Committee states there is “overwhelming evidence” Russia’s goal was to elect Donald Trump.
The result of Putin’s intervention in the American election cannot be downplayed. If Hillary Clinton had garnered just 107,000 more votes in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, this would have given her the Electoral College and the White House. According to pollster Nate Silver, the Russian intervention contributed to eroding up to three per cent of the swing-state vote from Clinton. That small margin was all it took to decide the election.