Are we doing enough to educate ourselves about the impeachment process?

By Michael P. Riccards

The American Founding Fathers were extremely concerned about the uses and abuses of power. They gave the nation a system of divisions of powers, and its intention was to checkmate sudden change or grabs for territory by one branch of government.  Somehow it seems quaint as citizens demand more services and programs for the nation’s ills. 

The election of Donald Trump was fueled by a genuine feeling that the liberal Democrat party had become too elitist, too concerned with special interests with social agenda.  The new president promised to clean up the swamp, that is Washington D.C. It is remarkable how we have allowed that rhetoric to be used in a massive raid on the federal treasury to support the super rich.

As the president faces impeachment, the issue has become almost a strictly partisan affair. The Democratic House will probably vote a bill of impeachment; the Senate, controlled by Republicans, will in all likelihood not convict. The role of evidence seems to be secondary to both sides. 

The issue is how well is the media informing us and educating us in this important process. The commercial television and the big three contain clips at night about the proceedings. And some of those networks are actually broadcasting the proceedings in the House Committee on Intelligence.  As with anything Congress does, the proceedings are long drawn out optical events for publicity hungry members of Congress. But if one is a true aficionado of news, that is all you need to form a judgment. The radio is preempting little programming for the impeachment proceedings. And the social media is full of conspiracy theories that feed the ignorance of democracy.  The quality of newspapers is rather low in general, but again if one wishes, you can get a good deal of information out of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Sometimes, a person can get opinions that shake your own party allegiances.

The real question is not whether the media is doing a good job, but are we, the citizenry, doing a good job seeking out information, judging and re-reading the whole morass. Studies show that people are not interested in the impeachment, except for the views that replicate their own initial views. I know few Democrats who are saying, “You know there really are no charges of high crimes and misdemeanors.” And there are few Republicans who admit that “this fellow has really violated his sacred trust of the great office he holds for partisan or pecuniary advantage.” 

So, what are we left with?  People are increasingly oblivious to counter arguments. They are simply frozen in time. And it is most appropriate for the American people in the next election to decide which direction they want to go.

Michael P. Riccards is president of the American Public Policy Institute and the author of 30 books including his two-volume history of the presidency, The Ferocious Engine of Democracy, and the forthcoming “Woodrow Wilson as Commander-in-Chief.”

 

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