Impeachment Audiences Matter

American audiences are diverse

Many audiences will be watching the impeachment trial beginning this week. The audience demographics are diverse. American nationalities, traditions, history, religions, and more will have their influences in the court of public opinion as the world watches. Will we, as a collective nation, be proud or discouraged with the outcome? Will our constitution withstand the stress? Will we?

America has many audiences – many point-of-views. These audiences will converge on the scene unfolding in our national Senate chamber as the impeachment trial unfolds. Some shouting will occur. Some prayers will be uttered. Patience will be strained. Who among us will listen, who will bend?

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Three audiences of the trial that will matter: The 100 U.S. Senators (the jurors), the American public, and history. For most readers of this blog, we will sit squarely among the American public, forming and contributing our perspectives to others around us – the court of public opinion.

Political audiences are biased

Will we be rightfully informed? Will we be unbiased from the outset of the proceedings or will we lean towards preconceived notions? Will we adapt well to the outcome?

Laurence Tribe, Harvard Professor of constitutional Law, and Joshua Matz, constitutional lawyer, published their book, To End A Presidency, in 2018.

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They claimed:

U.S. politics is in a terrible state… a claim about our society as a whole.

Tribe and Matz offered this insight about how we take in the news:

All too easily, we immerse ourselves in news streams that never challenge our views, correct our errors, or expose us to competing narratives. Mindless repetition can thereby replace thoughtful reflection in the marketplace of ideas, eroding the foundations of deliberative democracy and informed self-government.

The 100 Senators took an oath that demands that they be unbiased and open-minded. That’s not an easy oath to take, especially in the midst of much rancor and continuous episodes of breaking news ever bearing new evidence. It’s especially challenging when we consider political party loyalty.

American audiences lack trust

Tribe and Matz refer to a 2017 Pew Research Report that informed us about polling responses to common perceptions:

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It seems we don’t trust each other much. And, given our bias, it’s really hard to listen and respect those we see as “sitting across the political aisle” from ourselves. The Pew Report continues with more personal assessments, revealing that our differences are more than a simple variety of taste. We easily accuse “the other” of being less than desirable with these results:

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American audiences are politically racist

Tribe and Matz quote Professor Cass Sunstein, another Harvard law professor, observing that:

Partyism now exceeds racism.

If you have a D (for Democrat) or an R (for Republican) associated with your name, you’re open to some abuse from those who vote differently than you.

The authors refer to political analyst, Charlie Cook, who says:

[A] large proportion of Americans have moved into ideological echo chambers, where everything they read or hear reinforces their predispositions and makes them more intolerant of opposing views.

If you watch the Senate trial proceedings with a bit of anxiety (be it hopeful or a lack thereof), it simply means you’re an American human. Given the state of our national governance, worry over our future is legitimate. Will history be kind?

American audiences must overcome tribalism and partisanship

Aren’t we getting tired of our national political divide? Can we not try to heal?

The good professors close with this admonition and advice:

…we must find ways to overcome the forces of tribalism and partisanship that have overtaken so much of American life.

Yes, we must. Being well informed, taking input from contrarian point-of-views, is a start. Self-checking our willingness to listen to other perspectives, setting aside our rush to judge them and to justify our own, is also helpful. It’s a process.

Voting is American power, and is sacred

One step is to recognize that voting is the center of our individual political power. As such, it becomes sacred. We must also recognize that it is afforded to every other American citizen.

Our presidential elections are a good place to start. This blog, as you probably realize by now, advocates for us to eliminate the winner-takes-all aspect of our presidential elections. We can easily fill the void such removal would make by using Equal Voice Voting (EVV) instead. And, it can be done on a state-by-state basis without a constitutional amendment!

The results of adopting EVV for our presidential elections include:

  • Increasing the number of votes that matter (almost doubling the count!)
  • Ending vote suppression (different than voter suppression)
  • Winning by popular vote
  • Retaining state sovereignty
  • Retaining voting checks and balances
  • Encouraging greater voter turnout
  • Expanding candidate representation
  • Removing swing state significance

We need to put aside our biases and make all votes matter, making the cry, “We the People,” bring us together once again.

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By Jerry Spriggs and the Equal Voice Voting Team

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