I was in junior high school that I realized how easy it was to extrapolate the future. Coca-cola cost a penny an ounce then. Eight cents for an eight ounce bottle, a dime for a ten ounce bottle, and so on. Then the ten ounce bottles disappeared from the vending machines, replaced by eight ounce bottles -- still costing a dime. In a flash, I saw that the price of Coke would be twenty cents within the year and a quarter not long after. I told this to a friend and he said, "You're nuts!"
It all happened, of course.
Much later, when ATM machines first appeared, I read the description of how they worked and pondered how you could prevent someone from making a fake deposit into a nearly empty account and then withdrawing the same amount in cash. "Of course!" I thought. "They don't credit the deposit until they see it." It was blindingly obvious.
A week later, the newspaper recounted that the fancy new machines were being reprogrammed not to credit deposits until a human being had actually seen them. Because they had discovered that scammers were making fake deposits. That was when I realized how rare it is for people in authority to make even the simplest extrapolations of the future.
So it's not in the spirit of partisanship but in the spirit of the blindingly obvious that I want to look at the next American presidential election four years from now.
The CIA has stated that the Russian government interfered in the most recent election. Accounts vary at this point. They certainly hacked into DNC computers and leaked documents that either were doctored or didn't have to be. They seem to have sponsored a flood of very savvy fake news sites. Some even claim they monkeyed where they could with electronic voting machines. (This is trickier because many machines aren't linked to the Web, rendering them close to unhackable and those that are don't have a single unified system, making the prospect expensive. But, where it matters, the Kremlin has very deep pockets.)
I am wary of the CIA. But I believe them in this case for two reasons: 1) Trump will be the next President, no matter what; there's simply not enough time to put together a case that would make the Electoral College not appoint him. 2) If the CIA were lying, then they would be committing an act of treason -- something they must surely know the next administration would take unkindly.
So. Russia committed what might technically be called an act of war. Let's leave it to the historians to argue whether it worked or Trump would have won handily without it. The issues are bigger than that now.
Whatever the facts, the Russian bureaucracy is going to believe they turned the election. Why? Because they threw a lot of money at it and they have to justify the expenditures. The cyberwarriors of other nations are going to believe it too. Why? Because the stakes are too high not to.
Most likely nothing serious will happen to Russia as a result. This will send a message to the world.
The US is still the biggest, richest, most dangerous nation on Earth. Every nation has a stake in who sets its policies. So four years from now, we can pretty confidently expect China to involve its cyberwarriors even more heavily in the election than Russia did in this one. They'd be fools not to.
Other nations I'm not so sure about. Israel? India? Germany? Japan? Saudi Arabia? Realpolitik says they all should. Various considerations might hold some of them back. At least until the 2024 elections.
But we're facing the possibility of the first American election in which the voters are minority stakeholders.
And I want to emphasize...
I'm not arguing politics here. Just stating the obvious.
The return of a holiday tradition.
Above: Not necessarily the future US electorate.I took this image from Flagdivision.com. You can find their site and maybe buy a flag here.