Why Historians Must Use Wikileaks To Write The History of the 2016 Election

tags: election 2016, WikiLeaks

Paul Gregory is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. He holds an endowed professorship in the Department of Economics at the University of Houston, Texas, is a research professor at the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin, and is chair of the International Advisory Board of the Kiev School of Economics.

Wikileaks is playing a prominent, if under reported, role, in the 2016 American presidential election. Few understand the importance of Wikileaks in the eventual writing of the history of presidential politics.

The media write and talk about events as they happen, usually without historical background or context. A good historian writes with retrospection about past events that explain historical outcomes. U.S. Presidential elections leave behind a clutter of accounts of those who were (or claim to have been) eyewitnesses to history – campaign insiders, journalists, pundits, and hangers-on. The best insider accounts pierce some of the veil of campaign rhetoric, PR, talking points, and smoke and mirrors to explain what was really happening behind the scenes.

The most authoritative histories are based on candid materials that history-makers believe will never see the light of day. My own work used the top secret verbatim transcripts of the Politburo and Central Committee located in the Hoover Institution Archives at Stanford to delve into how the Soviet political and economic system actually worked. The tens of thousands of fading typescript pages revealed the actual spoken words of the Soviet founders, who fully expected their utterances to disappear into the vaults, never to be seen by any unauthorized person. The USSR collapsed in December of 1991, and the vaults opened wide, making the Soviet system among the best documented in history. Few secrets are left of mass political murder as Soviet leaders turn over in their resting places in the Kremlin wall.

The Wikileaks releases of emails from inside the Hillary Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and other Clinton-related entities have one thing in common with the Soviet transcripts I studied: Both data bases were created under the strong presumption that their contents would never be disclosed. That apparently was the purpose of Clinton’s so-called homebrew server. Hence, we are granted, in both cases, the rare opportunity to understand how things actually worked in the candid and unguarded words of those who ran the system. ...

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