This month, the controversial whistleblower Chelsea Manning announced her run for the United States Senate for the state of Maryland. The former army private was found guilty of leaking 700,000 classified military documents and videos to Wikileaks, where sensitive government related information is dumped. It was the largest leak in U.S. military history. She was convicted of espionage and sentenced to 35 years in prison, during the last days of Barack Obama’s presidency, he commuted Manning’s sentence.
Manning’s reason for disclosing the documents according to ABC was “to spark public debate… she didn’t think leaking them would threaten national security.” Similar to how the Pentagon Papers released during the Vietnam War changed public opinion, Manning wanted to release information to change perceptions about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
However, in this cyber age, information is vital. Foreign nations and organizations opposed to the U.S. could have potentially used that information to their advantage. The documents leaked contained names, battlefield reports and diplomatic correspondence. I question if the former intelligence analyst can be trusted with top secret information after her seven years in prison. Obama did not pardon her sentence but commuted it. In other words she wasn’t forgiven for her actions, she no longer had to serve the rest of her prison sentence.
I am not a fan of Chelsea Manning running for office. Not only is the former army private’s history with classified documents dubious, but she also lacks any governing experience. Ever since the election of Donald Trump, people have come out of the woodwork believing all you need in order to govern is fame. Earlier this month, after a powerful speech by Oprah Winfrey at the Golden Globes, it was suggested Winfrey run for the 2020 presidential election.
Ultimately, she said, “it’s not something that interests me. I don’t have the DNA for it.” And this is exactly the point. Some people are not fit for the job, not because of their race, gender or politics, but because they lack the qualifications to make a competent political leader.
We have grown so distrustful of politicians that we’d rather elect someone on television or Twitter than someone in a law office. Why not promote the Ron Paul and Bernie Sander types?
There are many adequate candidates with experiential knowledge about the government. Yet, in an era of mass surveillance, a powerful military industrial complex and an overall discouragement of whistleblowers, people’s faith in the institutions of “old” have withered. The general public look to cure the decrepit system by taking a gamble on a political outsider. For better or worse this is where we stand as a society.