The first day of hearings showed how much controversy one hearing can cause. courtesy PBS

Televised impeachment hearings make for a spectacle

Making these hearings more accessible is the right thing to do despite the drawbacks.

I’m not going to bother devoting much time to the actual content of the impeachment hearings, because it’s basically just red politicians versus blue politicians, and the ultimate outcome is already set in stone if you ask me. (The House will impeach but the Senate will not convict, like what happened with Clinton but with the parties flipped.) I would like to talk about the fact that the impeachment hearings were televised.

The hearings themselves were more bombastic theatricality than anything else, but regardless of this, I’m glad that they were televised. Americans are now more civically engaged than they have been since World War II; the 2018 midterms had a turnout of 50.1 percent. The fact that these hearings were televised on almost every major news outlet and that they were viewed by people indicates that Americans are beginning to recognize the impacts of political proceedings in D.C. and beginning to more closely scrutinize the people they elect.

My articles are usually pessimistic and cynical, but today I am refraining from discussing the actual content of these hearings so that I can instead discuss the fact that ticket-splitting, or the act of voting for some Republicans and some Democrats, is becoming more and more common; it seems that people are finally willing to set aside their prejudices and work to improve their state and country in a bipartisan way! I think we will finally start getting things done again.

I’m laughing on the outside but crying on the inside because that last paragraph was entirely incorrect (except for the part where I say that I’m pessimistic and cynical, of course). We are more polarized than we have been for hundreds of years. The UCLA Social Sciences Division assigned each Congress throughout U.S. history an “ideology score” based on left-to-right leanings of each major party, and found that the Republican Party has a score of 0.51 on a scale from -1 to 1, with -1 being most liberal and 1 being most conservative. The Democratic Party had a score of -0.4, and the range of ideologies each party represents is constricting away from the mean and towards the party average.

Under different circumstances, I would be absolutely ecstatic that these hearings were televised, but the fact that they were televised at all was really just a political stunt. This didn’t happen because the general public is becoming more interested in engaging in constructive political discourse, it happened because politicians are getting better at manipulating uninformed people who obtain all of their news from a single source.

Ultimately, whether or not the hearings are televised is irrelevant. News agencies with obvious biases are still able and eager to cherry-pick the bits and pieces they need to reinforce the clickbait sensationalism designed to attract as many hate clicks as possible because the Google-Facebook duopoly ate up the entire online advertisement market and traditional media is dying, meaning that the only way for journalism to be profitable is to be controversial, which has only exacerbated the political polarization which has fatally poisoned any and all efforts to accomplish something meaningful on the federal level and where is my goddamn tylenol.

Post Author: Dominic Cingoranelli