Our intelligence agencies, and now our Senate Intelligence Committee as well as Republican and Democratic House Intelligence members have found solid evidence that Russia hacked our 2016 election, and is actively seeking to manipulate this upcoming election and future elections. And yes, it will come to hurt you, whether you believe that it’s happening, or not.

You now know about the indictments against a number of Russians for their role in the hacking during the 2016 election. Regardless of your political party, you should also know that many people trust our investigators and intelligence community. Today, a Gallup poll revealed that only six percent see Russia as an ally, and another 25 percent see the country as at least friendly, if not an ally. But a strong majority isn’t being duped by the propaganda, as 37 percent see the country as unfriendly, with another 29 percent viewing the country as an enemy, the highest numbers since the 1990s when Communism in Russia suffered a stinging defeat.

Statue of Liberty inside of Russian nesting doll - Stock image taken by maskalinCompare these numbers with 12 years ago, when 18 percent saw Putin’s country as an ally, and 55 percent saw the country as friendly (73% had a positive impression), while only 16 percent saw the country as unfriendly, and four percent saw Putin as an enemy (20% had a negative impression). We used to be a lot more trusting back then.

But as you can see, there are still about 30 percent who just don’t see it. And no, they’re not just conservatives. You can also see some on the left, who swing hard socialist, who think Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning are heroes, who hate Democrat centrists almost as much as some on the extreme conservative side can’t stand mainstream conservatives and GOP moderates. These groups don’t mind Putin’s hackers, thinking the Russian leader will help them win. Russia could just as easily dump Trump for some progressive who is more politically savvy who will do their business and will have better poll numbers. There’s no loyalty among totalitarians, as we learned after World War II, and how the USSR repaid our aid with Cold War conflict.

So here are a few ways Putin and his Russian hackers are poised to personally hurt you, whether you believe they are a threat or not.

According to Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, former GOP Senator from Indiana, our country is facing danger signs along the lines of 9/11 when it comes to cyber threats. “Russia has been the most aggressive foreign actor, no question” the conservative. He finds Russians and other communists (China North Korea) are targeting “federal government agencies, the military, state and local governments, business and academia.” The Russians are going after our defense contractors, getting their hands on drone codes. Even if you don’t think manipulating our democracy is a big deal, protecting our national security does matter.

We know that Russians disseminate social media ads designed to spread fake news to whip Americans into a political frenzy, posting Facebook ads that were used to manipulate groups into flash mob actions, in places like Baltimore where riots took place. That should concern you.

But I sense some of you don’t care, as long as none of this happens outside your front door. Then you should know this. Russian hackers have stolen millions from accounts across America, as NBC News reports, with more to come in the next few weeks. If you think you’re so secure, are you sure your bank is, and that your savings won’t disappear? You can believe all you want, but when your assets disappear, it’ll be too late to recognize the danger.

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Image: Statue of Liberty inside of Russian nesting doll - Stock image taken by maskalin licensed by LikeTheDew.com at iStockPhoto.com.
John A. Tures

John A. Tures

John A. Tures is an Associate Professor of Political Science at LaGrange College in Georgia.  He writes about international politics, elections, sports, and the War of 1812.