Most concerning about Russian hacking is not what it revealed about Clinton. We already knew she was inextricably tied to Wall Street. That was the very premise of Bernie Sanders’s campaign, and now that Clinton lost all the progressive momentum that Sanders was riding must be redirected to controlling the damage of Trump rather than making progress on corruption.
The graver concern revealed by Russian hacking is the apparent affinity between Putin and Trump. That Putin would try to influence the US election for Trump’s benefit strongly suggests that Putin thinks Trump would be good for Putin, and that is deeply troubling because of what Putin stands for: brutal accumulation of ever more concentrated power.
Putin has cracked down severely on essential institutions of civil society: freedom of expression, an impartial judiciary, democratic elections. He routinely imprisons activists, tortures dissidents, intimidates human rights organizations. As a result, Russia is ruled not by law but by an oligarch. He has kept himself in power for 17 years and counting. (Putin was president for two terms, then got his puppet Medvedev elected who immediately appointed Putin to be prime minister. Medvedev served only one term, during which Putin got presidential term limits extended, so that Putin could preside for the next 12 years; we have 7 years to go.)
With that power, Putin invaded an independent country, Ukraine, and annexed its most geopolitically important region, Crimea. And Crimea does not appear to be the end of it. With Trump suggesting pulling out of NATO and Putin lining up nuclear missiles next to other Eastern European countries, the stage is set for Russia to continue aggressive expansion into independent countries.
In the United States, too, there are grossly disproportionate relations of power. There are severe distortions of free expression stemming from corporatization of media and inequalities perpetuated through our economic and education systems. Biases pervade our judicial system, especially criminal justice. And elections are not as democratic as they purport to be, thanks to gerrymandering, campaign finance, voter ID laws, the electoral college, and other distortions. And the United States has invaded other countries, has wielded hegemonic power around the world. But we can talk about all of the above without fear of ending up in prison or worse.