The sad state of political knowledge |

The sad state of political knowledge

Karl Neathammer
For the Nevada Appeal

Recently, right here in Carson City, I was asked to sign a petition to impeach President Obama.

I was told that to impeach meant to remove a sitting president from office, and that by merely signing this petition, President Obama and his wife Michelle would be leaving the White House because “the people have spoken.”

Regardless of whether one is politically liberal or conservative, there appears to be a type of mentality by the misinformed that relies on self-delusional ideas, myths and political fairy tales.

The right to impeach public officials is secured by the U.S. Constitution in Article 1, sections 2 and 3, which discuss the procedure, and in Article II, Section 4, which indicates the grounds for impeachment: “The president, vice president and all civil officers of the United States shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

It requires two steps. (1) a formal accusation or impeachment by the House of Representatives, and (2) a trial and conviction by the Senate. Impeachment requires a majority vote of the House, and conviction is more difficult, requiring a two-thirds vote by the Senate.

Since 1797, the House of Representatives has impeached 16 federal officials. These include two presidents – Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton – a cabinet member, a senator, a justice of the Supreme Court and 11 federal judges. Of those, the Senate has convicted and removed seven, all of them judges.

Not included in this list are the office holders who have resigned rather than face impeachment, most notably, President Richard Nixon. Johnson and Clinton were impeached, but not removed from office.

Signing some useless petition sponsored by some patriot group, or promulgated by some cheap howler who infects our airwaves, will not result in the removal of Obama from the White House.

Research into cognitive thinking seems to suggest and “highlight the disturbing reality that once an idea has been implanted in people’s minds, it can be difficult to dislodge. Denials inherently require repeating the bad information, which may be one reason they can be paradoxically reinforced … indeed, repetition seems to be a key culprit.” (See Shankar Verdantam, Washington Post, 2007.

Propagandists – read that as politicians – are masters at exploiting this inherent flaw in all of us that passes as critical thinking. To assert our rights as self-governing people, we must rely on education and knowledge, not on the aforementioned self-delusional ideas, or cheap slogans, myths and repetitive political fairy tales.

Oh, by the way, Betsy Ross didn’t design or sew the first American flag.

• Karl Neathammer, of Carson City, formerly served as Justice of the Peace Pro Tem for the Carson City Justice Court for eight years. Prior to his appointment to the bench, he was sub-contractor for the Nevada Supreme Court, and was the facilitator for the Consortium of State and Tribal Judges.