Letter: Russian hacks no joking matter

To the editor:

Tim Ryan missed the most important point in his article about the recent evidence of Russian meddling in the American political process (“County Dems hit by Russian hacking incident,” Jan. 20).

Ryan begins his article derisively when he asks if Shawano County is “holding tantalizing secret information that Russian President Vladimir Putin would like to get his hands on?” He concludes by saying the cost of repairing the hacking damage is comparatively small.

End of story? Hardly, at least not the end for responsible journalists. Instead of joking about the Russian hack and minimizing its effects, someone at The Shawano Leader needs to recognize what’s most important about the hacking incident. The Russian hacks are attacks on our democracy.

This is not a joking matter. The hacks transcend the political parties. This is serious business. This is about how our society functions or fails to function.

Russian hacks and selected leaks are intended to influence the outcomes of our elections. This undermines the integrity of our democratic political process.

The hacks may have helped presidential candidate Trump in the short term, but they endanger everyone, from Republicans, Democrats, Independents to those who could not care less about politics. European intelligence agencies confirmed the Russian attacks on the American presidential election, and they are deeply concerned protecting their upcoming elections from similar interference.

We are all endangered when the democratic decision-making process is undermined because the alternative decision-making methods are especially problematic. Do we really want to substitute rule by a strong-man like Putin and his fellow oligarchs for democracy?

With that in mind, when Russian hacks combine with an onslaught of fake news to create confusion, we need a way to clarify muddied waters. Clarity would be greatly enhanced if President Trump revealed his tax returns. A Washington Post-ABC News poll found 74 percent of Americans (53 percent of Republicans) believe President Trump should release his tax returns. We need to know more than how much he is worth or how deeply in debt. We need to know if the Russians focused on hacking Democrats and if the reason Trump speaks so highly of Putin has any relation to his business dealings.

So we can understand his future decision-making on many fronts, we need to know what people and countries have loaned President Trump money and who he has done business with in the past and present.

Brian Ewart,