Confirmation bias in the impeachment proceedings

Most of us believe what we want to believe. Our natural tendency is to shy away from views that challenge our own. This is called confirmation bias.

You know you have this bias if you only watch Fox or CNN or CNBC.

You know you have this bias if you watch the Democratic House impeachment managers give their arguments and you tune them out because you like Trump. You get caught up accusing Democrats of using the “wrong procedures” during the House investigations. You buy into the belief that the Democrats were out to get rid of Trump from before his inauguration.

You bought into the Republican talking points that the Democrats are trying to overturn the 2016 election results. You point out the lack of depth and the hastiness of the House investigations, ignoring the fact that the President refused to allow his staff to testify and withheld documents requested by House committees.

You know you have this bias if you criticize the Democrats for not wanting to go through the courts to force Trump’s staff to testify even though that would take months. You also ignore the fact that Pelosi didn’t want to carry the trial into the 2020 election year for fear of the effect it would have on the elections. Pelosi also felt compelled to impeach Trump because Trump, being his own worst enemy, released a rough transcript of the phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky clearly showing Trump had asked for a political favor in return for aid.

Now that Mitch McConnell is in charge you are silent at the limited scope of his hearings. Originally, he wanted to hear the House managers’ testimony in two days. But because of moderate Republican senatorial objections, McConnell allowed the 24-hours of House testimony to be extended over three days. Whether there are witnesses remains to be seen.

You know you have this bias if you ignore the fact that the Senate has to swear to be impartial in the trial while McConnell has already stated publicly that this will be a quick trial with a pre-determined outcome—acquittal. McConnell has stated openly that he is working closely with the White House. Isn’t every senator, including McConnell, who has taken the oath of impartiality now in danger of perjuring themselves if they aren’t impartial?

What is the approach of the Democratic House managers? From what I listened to, it was calm, methodical and logical, with well-prepared video slices of testimony from House witnesses and Twitter and email messages that clearly laid out the series of events of Trump’s attempt to bully the Ukrainian president into investigating the Biden’s.

Trump’s attorneys didn’t give testimony that contradicted the House witnesses or narrative. Instead, they have said that the charges against Trump aren’t impeachable offenses. That they aren’t crimes, even though being a crime is not a requirement for an article of impeachment.

Trump’s attorneys claim they didn’t get a chance to testify in the House investigation. The House investigations were like a grand jury hearing where only the prosecution’s arguments are presented. The actual trial is supposed to be in the Senate. That’s where Trump’s lawyers get the chance to present Trump’s side.

In actuality, there are two sets of jurors—first, the senators who have had to sit quietly during the whole testimony. They have been bullied into submission by a president whom they know can cause them to lose their seats in the next election if they cross him.

The other jury is the American people. The real decision for the trial will come in November when the American people vote for their next president. Hopefully, for the sake of the nation, logic will overcome emotion. Time will tell whether we will give up our representative democracy or slip into dictatorship. The choice lies with “We the People”.


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