March 6, 2021

Russia was banned from the Olympics – Why won’t Trump ban them from our elections?

Today, Russia has been banned from the Olympics for "deception" while Trump threatens to veto measures to protect America's elections from foreign meddling.

Sometimes the news of the day stands in such stark contrast that the irony is truly unbelievable. Today, the Washington Post reports that Russia was handed a “four-year global ban from all major sporting events by the World Anti-Doping Agency.” This prevents Russia from competing collectively as a nation in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Now it stark, glaring contrast, Bloomberg reports that “Trump Threatens to Veto Bill on Foreign Influence in Elections.” In other words, the 45th president might shut down a bill meant to prevent countries like Russia from meddling in our 2020 elections. But sporting events have just been protected? Where is the justice?

‘Anti-Russian hysteria’

According to the BBC, the Russian prime minister made contradictory statements responding to the Olympics ban, calling it unfair “Russian hysteria” while also admitting that doping problems exist.

“Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev said the ban was part of ‘chronic anti-Russian hysteria.'”

“It is obvious that significant doping problems still exist in Russia, I mean our sporting community,” he said. “This is impossible to deny.
“But on the other hand the fact that all these decisions are repeated, often affecting athletes who have already been punished in one way or another, not to mention some other points – of course this makes one think that this is part of anti-Russian hysteria which has become chronic.”

Russia’s Anti Doping Agenda called Rusada was caught manipulating laboratory data that was delivered to investigators, even after facing a prior three-year suspension for a “vast state-sponsored doping scandal.”

Wada president Sir Craig Reedie called out Russia’s “deception and denial.”

“Russia was afforded every opportunity to get its house in order and rejoin the global anti-doping community for the good of its athletes and of the integrity of sport, but it chose instead to continue in its stance of deception and denial.”

Other Wada officials suggest stronger sanctions are warranted.


Deception and denial in America

Turning to the topic of election meddling, Russia certainly used deception and denial after meddling in U.S. elections, hoping to help candidate Trump become the 45th president. We will never know for sure if their extensive disinformation campaign as well as hacking the DNC handed Trump the White House.

Many Americans will always consider Trump an illegitimate president, as even today, he and key Republicans choose to parrot Russian propaganda that Ukraine meddled in our elections and not Russia.

Now, as Trump faces impeachment and his cronies accuse Democrats of partisan motives, Donald Trump has threatened to veto the Shield Act, “aimed at stopping foreign interference in U.S. elections.”

According to Bloomberg:

“The House passed the measure, known as the Shield Act, on Wednesday evening. It would require political campaigns to report contacts with foreigners to the FBI and the Federal Election Commission. It would also outlaw handing private campaign information to foreigners and bolster ad-reporting requirements.

The White House called the those requirements “overly broad” and “unenforceable,” arguing elections are adequately protected under current law.”

House Administration Committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren says the bill would “protect our elections from foreign interference” and ensure “that individuals engaging in conduct with foreign actors intending to influence the outcome of our elections will be held accountable by law.”

The measure faces strong opposition among Republicans who control the Senate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell this week described it as an “attack on the First Amendment,” which would “expand government’s control over America’s political speech.”

According to the Hill:

“House Democrats have achieved something remarkable here. They have drafted legislation that is so anti-First Amendment that it has united everybody from former [Federal Election Commission (FEC)] commissioners to the [American Civil Liberties Union] to yours truly in opposition to it,” McConnell said.
He added that Democrats are “chipping away at the First Amendment. It’s a pet project they return to time and time again. It’s disturbing.”

However, rather than curbing free speech, the bill would require oversight and stricter advertisement rules for social media content.

The Shield Act would require: campaigns to report “illicit offers” of election assistance from foreign governments or individuals to both the FBI and the FEC, and take steps to ensure that political advertisements on social media are subject to the same stricter rules as ads on television or radio.

In fact, the Shield Act specifically references protections for “legitimate journalistic activities.” But McConnell called the measure “Orwellian,” a word often used to describe the Trump administration.

“Now, I look forward to hearing what Orwellian commission or process House Democrats may have in mind for determining whether Washington, D.C., deems a particular journalist ‘legitimate,'” McConnell added.

In the name of free speech, it appears that Trump and McConnell want to do everything they can to ensure that foreign actors like Russia can meddle in our upcoming elections once more.

Yet in the world of sports, Russia is being held accountable for their refusal to play by the rules. If it were up to Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump, would Russia be allowed to continue cheating in sports as well as in American elections? So long as it worked in the Republicans’ favor?

Shouldn’t America’s elections be more important than sporting events? As such shouldn’t an American President and Senate Majority Leader do all they can to protect elections from foreign influence and corruption? Until they do, Americans consider if they should be eligible to participate as our elected representatives.

More on the Shield Act from CBS Denver:

Featured image: Screenshots via YouTube

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