Election Security Is Homeland Security. Why Aren’t Trump and McConnell Taking It Seriously?

Election Security Is Homeland Security. Why Aren’t Trump and McConnell Taking It Seriously?
State officials and tech company executives are sworn in to testify at a congressional subcommittee hearing on election security, Washington, May 22, 2019 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

Homeland security is a priority for every nation. Since some countries face the same threats and enemies for decades, or even centuries, their conceptualization of homeland security remains constant. The United States is different. As America’s role in the world and the challenges it faces have changed, Americans themselves have had to periodically reconceptualize homeland security. Another radical rethinking is underway again today, and much is at stake.

In the first half of the 20th century, homeland security became more than just protecting the nation’s borders and ports, as Americans recognized that events far away had a direct effect on the United States, as both world wars made all too clear. Americans’ conceptualization of homeland security shifted again when the Soviet Union, a nuclear superpower, both built bombers and missiles that could strike U.S. territory and forged allies with radical organizations capable of subversion inside the United States. A third transformation came after 9/11, when Americans faced the reality that the country was vulnerable to terrorist attacks by ideologically motivated extremist groups.

Today, there is a pressing need for another shift in the way Americans think about homeland security. But for a variety of reasons, this reconceptualization is more complicated and difficult than the ones before it. Two things in particular are undercutting old ideas: intense connectivity and the weaponization of everything. Connectivity, whether economic or psychological, links U.S. national security to instability and conflict elsewhere in the world and gives potential enemies many ways to harm the United States. Gone are the days when homeland security mainly required protecting America’s ports against foreign naval incursions and, later, stopping Soviet aircraft and missiles. Now, opponents can strike the United States in myriad ways.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.