The inevitable has come to pass. The impeachment inquiry of the American President has begun with House Democrats leading the charge. It is a made-for-television event as reflected in its viewership. A resolute and dignified Ukrainian ambassador Marie Yovanovich recounted how the President of the United States invited a foreign country to investigate his political rival Joe Biden, and undermined the most basic foundation of electoral democracy, free and fair elections. I kept thinking would this might be possible in any other country, where such events are routinely discussed in front of television cameras for all to see and hear.
Last year the confirmation hearing of American supreme court Judge Bret Kavanaugh, as contentious as it was, generated similar viewership. Unlike here, in India, where parliamentary standing committees function in secrecy, hidden from the public eye, the American system does provide an openness we have yet to see in other democratic countries. Whether it is calling an all-powerful secretary of state Hillary Clinton in front of the House Select Committee or calling one of the most successful billionaires Mark Zuckerberg, these committees call out the rich and powerful for everyone to see.
The idea of openness and accountability form the cornerstone of a democratic and just society. It is another matter that the kind of partisanship on display in these hearing makes one doubt if elected representatives are capable of rising above ideological or political affiliations to arrive at a fair and balanced conclusion. Nevertheless, we can learn a lot from these hearings, when it comes to public accountability.