Establishment Democrats — desperate to cast blame anywhere else — have been casting about for the real reason Hillary Clinton lost ever since the election. After all, they’d never admit that they spent years setting the whole party machinery in the motion toward anointing a bad candidate; actually taking responsibility for their own mistakes is unthinkable.
Instead, they’ve been finding all sorts of excuses for why she lost: the Electoral College, Bernie Sanders, racism, sexism. They’re casting a wide net. The solution for this massive failure they seem to be settling on, though, is Russian hacking.
To be clear, there is no evidence that Russians actually hacked the election itself — that is, remotely changing the results by manipulating electronic voting machines. Instead, the intelligence community has accused the Russian government of being behind the hacking of Democratic National Committee emails, which were then published on WikiLeaks. It’s unclear whether these emails actually changed the outcome of the election. But what the hacking — and the reactions to it — did uncover was plenty of partisan hypocrisy.
On the Republican side, the accusations have revealed a fissure between President-elect Donald Trump and Congress. Congressional leadership, to their credit, are taking the accusations seriously, and consensus seems to be building for some type of investigation. On the other hand, Trump and his team seem to be taking the accusations as a personal affront and are dismissing them out of hand after spending months attacking Hillary Clinton over her mishandling of government emails. They should welcome an investigation: he’ll be sworn in on Jan. 20 regardless, and as in most presidential elections, there was no one reason why he won and she lost.
For Democrats, the picture is slightly more complex. They are a party that had not only frantically defended Clinton’s inappropriate use of a private email server, but also initially claimed the emails were irrelevant. Now that the intelligence community has decided the Russians were behind it, Democrats are caught between a rock and a hard place. After all, it’s difficult for them to claim simultaneously that the emails revealed no wrongdoing and that the hacking was a successful plot that cost Clinton the election. If the emails weren’t relevant, then the hacking can’t be blamed for Clinton’s loss; if they were, then they reveal wrongdoing at the DNC.
This is also a party that has spent years attempting to cozy up to Russia and that averted their eyes from Vladimir Putin’s misdeeds. The Democrats’ presidential candidate was the author of the infamous reset button during her time as Secretary of State. Way back in 2012, Obama promised then-President Medvedev that he would have more flexibility after the election, and he mocked Mitt Romney for saying that Russia was a top geopolitical foe. In four short years, Democrats have gone from seeing Putin as a potential ally to an enemy, while Republicans have made that trip in reverse.
The truth is that, for well over a decade now, neither party has known how to handle Putin and, by extension, Russia. Putin is neither a clear-cut enemy nor is he in any way, shape or form an ally. There may be areas where our interests align and the United States can cooperate with Russia, while in others the two countries will be on opposite sides. It’s high time that both parties recognize that U.S.-Russian relations are a complex topic and not one that can be easily categorized for domestic gain. The sooner that happens, the better it will be for both parties, both countries, and the world as a whole.