Here’s what we knew long before Robert Mueller’s redacted report was released: Foreign governments and anti-American forces want to disrupt U.S. elections. They want to destabilize the sacred processes at the core of our democracy and others around the world. They want to divide the electorate. They want to discredit our form of government so that the stock value of authoritarianism rises.
At the center of this drama is Congress and our elections. But, almost as if they are knowingly operating according to our foes’ playbook, Congress cannot unite around a single piece of legislation – much less a robust package of bills – to shore up our cyber defenses, improve election integrity in our states, or shine a light on disinformation campaigns targeting voters.
What kind of legislation? A solid first step would be to pass the bipartisan Honest Ads Act. The bill has been endorsed by virtually every major technology company whose platforms have been repeatedly abused by foreign actors: Facebook, Google, and Twitter, as well as industry giants IBM and Microsoft. In the past, the legislation gained the support of more than a dozen Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate.
Additionally, our nation’s election watchdog — the Federal Election Commission — is crippled. The Restoring Integrity to America’s Elections Act, also bipartisan, would help the agency gain its footing as an enforcer of laws. Finally, but no less important, there are no effective mechanisms to protect against foreign contributions flowing through super PACs and politically active nonprofit organizations — and that should be fixed immediately as well.
Congress has a constitutional responsibility to protect our country — including itself. This is not merely a matter of electoral reform; it’s a matter of national security to which there must be a decisive response. Congress must overcome its paralysis and actively seek the common ground necessary to send a message to those who seek to undermine our American way of governing that we are not just responsive to immediate threats but eternally resilient.