Roundup: Editorial opinions from other papers

Farmington Daily Times
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Cybersecurity should not be a partisan issue

Of all the ugly incidents occasioned by the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, some of the most unsettling have unfolded invisibly — specifically, online. In June, for example, it became clear that the Democratic National Committee had been hacked. Hillary Clinton’s campaign was likely attacked, too, along with a key Democratic political outfit.

The attacks are being investigated, and the motivations behind them remain murky. Nonetheless, they illuminate something important about politics in the digital age: Campaigns are by definition partisan, but the issue of protecting them shouldn’t be.

Campaign organizations, by their nature, are inviting targets for hackers. They rely heavily on volunteers, who are often untrained in cybersecurity. They’re convenient repositories of damaging information, both about their opponents (whose liabilities are cataloged in “oppo” files) and about their own candidates (whose every flaw must be aired to anticipate attacks). They’re rich veins of financial data, and the power dynamics they reveal. And they can’t help but expose all the gossip, drama, ego trips and penny-ante enmities that haunt every political operation. That kind of information is immensely useful for an opponent — or for a foreign agent.

Parties and campaigns should recognize that the data they collect is a powerful asset, and dangerous in the wrong hands. They need to be far more vigilant about protecting it.

More alarming possibilities are also emerging. One is the prospect of an unfriendly nation mining these new data deposits and probing polling systems with the aim of not just stealing information but influencing an election.

Meanwhile, most Americans are probably unaware of just how vulnerable voting machines are to hacking. The worries are such that the Homeland Security Department is considering whether to designate electoral apparatus as “critical infrastructure,” and thus eligible for federal security funding.

That’s an idea worth considering, but probably insufficient. The fact is, these threats are only starting to dawn on the political world, and confronting them will require a wholesale rethinking of both campaigns and elections. It will take years — and it’s only a slight exaggeration to say that democracy itself is at stake.

Bloomberg View, Aug. 10


The fall — and rise? — of moderate Republicans

Libertarianism has long been treated as a fringe ideology obsessed with the gold standard, legalization of hard drugs and “Atlas Shrugged.” Ron Paul, who ran for president in the 2012 GOP primaries, was the archetype, calling for an end to Social Security and the Federal Reserve. But when Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson extols fiscal responsibility and social tolerance, he brings to mind a different political tradition: that of moderate Republicans.

There was a time, not so long ago, when they dominated the GOP. Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush sprang from this wing of the party. So, arguably, did George W. Bush, along with nominees such as Bob Dole, John McCain and Mitt Romney.

But the party has moved steadily to the right recently. Rank-and-file GOP voters grew significantly more conservative in the first decade of this century. It’s a measure of how conservative House Republicans have become that Speaker Paul Ryan, once a tea party hero, is now viewed with distrust by many in his caucus.

That growing tilt leaves an electoral opening for a candidate who thinks the government shouldn’t meddle too much in either markets or morals. Hillary Clinton isn’t interested in occupying it. So Johnson, who is averaging 9 percent support in the RealClearPolitics average of four-way polls that include him and Green Party nominee Jill Stein, has that niche to himself.

In Kansas, long solidly Republican, moderates are rebounding, thanks to the unpopularity of conservative Gov. Sam Brownback. In the Aug. 2 legislative primary, moderates defeated incumbent Brownback allies in more than a dozen races. U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, a tea party stalwart, also got evicted.

Since 2012, the share of Republicans who say they are economically and socially conservative has shrunk from 57 percent to 42 percent. But the national party’s message hasn’t caught up with that trend.

If Trump loses — and particularly if he loses big — moderates may find themselves taken more seriously in Congress and the party. Many Republicans are probably already wondering how much brighter their electoral prospects would be with, say, John Kasich of Ohio atop the ballot in November.

Victories by senators who have clashed with Trump — such as Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Rob Portman of Ohio, as well as Kirk and McCain — would give them more influence on the GOP’s direction. A strong showing by Libertarian Johnson would encourage Republicans to adopt at least some of his ideas. And voter frustration with gridlock may aid lawmakers who don’t treat compromise as a crime.

Pragmatic, centrist Republicans have largely vanished from the American political scene. But their absence leaves a vacuum that begs to be filled.

Chicago Tribune, Aug. 12