Foreign Interference Is Anathema To Democracy

The words "troll farm" might evoke visions of squat green creatures, round and jolly, working together to harvest crops. At least, that's what the ubiquitous Disney film Frozen and a working knowledge of typical bucolic activity pieced together in this writer's imagination. Of course, in the world of social media and internet news, "troll farm" means nothing of the sort. The term instead denotes a group of online activists dedicated to "trolling," i.e., insulting and delegitimizing, individuals deemed distasteful, oppositional, or problematic. And the recent CIA report on Russian allegedly interfering in the election cites such trolls farms as one tool employed by Vladimir Putin's government to undermine our democracy, according to the report. (President-elect Trump has denied that this ever occurred.) This piece of information could be "the one" that convinces more electors to change their vote, joining the "Hamilton Electors" in their efforts to keep President-elect Trump out of the Oval Office.

The task of the Hamilton Electors is steep: Convince 37 Republicans pledged to vote for Trump to instead defect to a "consensus candidate." That's more than 10 percent of the current 306 Republican electors, who are often local party officials, ergo unlikely to buck the figurative head of the party itself. But as the Hamilton Electors demonstrate, the choice to vote one's conscience, rather than the voters' mandate, has led 157 electors throughout American history to abandon their "pledged" candidate. And doing just that is what the electoral college was designed for, to work as a "failsafe" against a dangerous or unstable person ascending to the presidency.

So why could potential Russian involvement in a U.S. election be taken more seriously by electors than some of Trump's manifest flaws? For starters, there is the long string of Putin-friendly rhetoric from Trump himself. The president-elect tweeted out his desire to be "best friends" with Putin, back in 2013. When confronted with Putin's government practice of jailing and assassinating dissidents and even journalists, Trump's response was "Our country does plenty of killing also."

He's mused on multiple occasions about how great it would be, if we "got along" with Russia. And most shamefully, Trump vowed to do nothing to stop the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo, a tragedy aided and abetted by Putin.

But beyond the person of Trump, a foreign entity allegedly interfering with Americans' right to free and fair elections is an existential threat to democracy itself. Despite some Trump surrogates arguing to the contrary, the FBI and the CIA both agree that the hacks of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign manager John Podesta were likely done by Russian agents. Evidence of this was first discovered by the private firm CrowdStrike, which amusingly dubbed the two known hackers as Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear. And America is not Putin's only target; several European nations have seen similar attempts at chaos-sowing from the Russian government.

While Donald Trump claims the hacking could be the work of a "400-pound" person hiding in a basement somewhere, even members of his own party have now backed the Obama-ordered investigation into Russian interference. This cover from high-ranking Republicans could be a factor in convincing hesitant electors to embrace their constitutional duty to protect the country from someone like Trump.

Ensuring the absence of foreign sway in a presidential outcome could be a game-changing rationale for electors on the fence to jump down on the consensus candidate side. Up such odds if any evidence emerges that actual votes were tampered with by the likes of Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear.