The next weeks and months are going to be the biggest test yet of whether we, as Americans, can filter out the noise.
When Richard Nixon faced impeachment in the early '70s, most of us didn’t have cable TV. When Bill Clinton faced impeachment in the mid-'90s, most of us didn’t have the internet.
Now the news chases us like a dog after a mail truck, 24 hours a day, on our TVs and our computer screens and in the phones in our pockets. And if we thought we had already heard enough politics and scandal for a thousand lifetimes, Lord help your poor brain cells now. I, for one, am not looking forward to more Rudy Giuliani in my life.
But here’s the thing. Now, more than ever, we owe it to ourselves to pay attention. And more than that, we owe it to our country to figure out the truth, as opposed to what we want to be the truth.
The practical outcome of all this is pretty clear. The House is very likely to vote for impeachment, and the Senate is very likely not to. That’s not the point. The point is to lay out the case against President Trump, as fully and honestly as possible, so that we the people can come to a fair conclusion about what he did and didn’t do.
When our president asked the Ukrainian president to do him a favor and investigate Joe Biden’s son, knowing that Ukraine hoped for and needed American military aid, is that an impeachable offense? Was he abusing his power by asking a foreign government to help him get re-elected? It sure feels like it to me. Especially in the context of all that we know and suspect about Trump’s relationship to the law.
But I am going to do my best to wait for all the facts. I am going to try very hard to listen to reasonable arguments that I might be wrong. And I am going to hope that other people will listen to reasonable arguments that I might be right.
Sometimes, of course, I wonder if it’s too late for that. It feels like our views of the world are more concrete than ever. There’s an astounding number of people who are paid to tell us that red is blue, and it’s sunny outside when the rain is pouring on our heads. They feed us what we want to believe, and that makes the belief stronger, and the loop cinches down so tight it strangles our good judgment.
We have to be better. And the impeachment process is an ideal place to start. It’s a grave thing, to consider throwing a president out of office. It’s a serious matter for serious people. For once, let’s be up to the task.
Tommy Tomlinson’s On My Mind column normally runs every Monday on WFAE and WFAE.org. It represents his opinion, not the opinion of WFAE. You can respond to this column in the comments section below. You can also email Tommy at email@example.com.