The 2016 Election wasn’t “our Pearl Harbor”

By Tyler Bauer

Once again, I’m blogging about hyperbole in politics. Last week, a writer for Politico said “Putin’s attack on the US is our Pearl Harbor.” This is a reference to the perception of Russian interference in the 2016 election, which gave us President Trump. While I appreciate Mark Hertling and Molly H. McKew’s enthusiasm, they couldn’t be further from the truth. Here’s why.

#1 Did Putin Attack the US?

Really, we don’t know. Have you seen any proof of Russian President Vladimir Putin attacking the US by interfering in our election? I know I haven’t. Heck, even then-President Obama admitted that Russia could not hack the election. Until we have proof of Putin making a concerted effort to hack our election, we shouldn’t accuse him of doing so. Even those who have been accused of interfering in the election – such as those highlighted in this article – cannot be proven to have been ordered to do so by Putin. It is entirely possible that these were rogue actors. Until we can be sure, we shouldn’t jump to conclusions.

#2 Even if Putin Attacked the US, the Election Wouldn’t be Swayed

A CNN article from before the election claimed that “the presidential election can’t be hacked.” (Of course, since their preferred candidate lost, CNN has since changed their tune.) Even if Putin and Russia tried, the extent to which our electoral process is decentralized makes it difficult, if not impossible, to make a difference. According to the CNN article from before the election, the only damage Russia could do would be to damage our faith in democracy. This is the same faith in democracy that CNN has lost since Hillary Clinton failed to become president. This isn’t about the sanctity of our elections – CNN has never cared about that. This is about CNN believing Clinton would win, then doing damage control when she lost.

#3 I’m Getting Really Tired of Political Hyperboles

On December 7, 1941, over three thousand Americans were killed or wounded after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The United States was pulled into the deadliest war in the history of humanity. Our military then went around the world to rid the world of fascism.

Just like the Trump-Putin summit wasn’t Kristallnacht, the 2016 election wasn’t Pearl Harbor (or 9/11, which is also referred to in the Politico article). If you have to resort to such hyperboles to make your point, your point isn’t all that valid. A good, reasoned argument doesn’t need to be compared to the darkest days in our history. Instead, it can stand on its own. If you want to be taken seriously, don’t use hyperboles. Act like an adult and make a decent argument. When it comes to Putin attacking the US, a decent argument can’t be made because there is no proof of such a thing happening. Until this happens, we shouldn’t make assumptions.

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