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"If mankind were to resolve to agree in no institution of government, until every part of it had been adjusted to the most exact standard of perfection, society would soon become a general scene of anarchy, and the world a desert."
—Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 65
Are we watching the final act of a failed Congress?
"The impeachment trial of President Trump requires dignity, fairness, impartiality, and seriousness of purpose in order to render a good verdict. But whatever the verdict, more is on trial than just the president.
Our political culture is on trial.
The impeachment of Donald Trump could be a rare moment of profound civic education, and of possible civic renewal."
Over at Vox, David Roberts also believes "America's Epistemic Crisis has arrived
." He has been watching our "growing inability, not just to cooperate, but even to learn and know the same things, to have a shared understanding of reality."
Is it good exercise to test the limits of our constitutional norms from time to time?
Journalist Anne Applebaum has a powerful perspective as an American citizen who has lived abroad for years at a time. This question about testing our limits is one she borrowed from a more hopeful colleague.
Applebaum participated in a recent episode of Radio Atlantic that asked "Is Russia Winning the Impeachment Hearings?
" With some prodding, she compared state-run media in Russia to the stories being told on Fox News and contemplated a future where President Trump is impeached and re-elected. She is skeptical that American democracy would survive that last test.
On another show, Anne had the opportunity to share the lessons she had learned
about national populism while living in Poland. There a myth and loyalty tests combined to manipulate elections:
The point was to get people to believe in a kind of alternative reality, to doubt institutions, to doubt that the government was telling them the truth. And that was absolutely an attempt to help win an election.
Lots of stories this week suggest we're keeping up with the exercise plan. The House passed legislation to protect the voting rights
compromised by the Supreme Court's decision in Shelby v. Holder (2013). The Washington Post and journalist Craig Whitlock persisted in taking their FOIA requests to court and have finally published what they're calling The Afghanistan Papers
The story of that fight over access to the truth is one worth hearing too. Check out the Afghanistan Papers episode
of their podcast Post Reports.