The impeachment hearings against the 45th president of the United States has got me thinking about more than politics. Naturally, political parties will stick together. Democrats have been pushing for impeachment and Republicans have been saying on what grounds. I’m here to take a look at both points of view. I understand the power struggle. I get that both sides will do and say anything to make the other side look bad with the hopes of winning over the voters at home. Maybe it’s more than politics. Maybe it’s biological. What if the dominant side of our brain dictates how we process information? Does being right or left side dominant affect where our convictions lie and, if so, is that the reason why many in this country see things so differently?
Before I get too deep lets go back in time to 1995. OJ Simpson was on trial for the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. The courtroom drama was nationally televised and was dubbed the trial of the century. When OJ was found not guilty it sent polarizing reactions. People were either outraged or overcome with joy. The evidence presented along with witness testimony had you believing he was guilty as sin or someone who was being framed. There was no in the middle. Having the best legal defense team money could buy was a strong reason for that. A great lawyer will make a sinner look like a saint regardless if his DNA was all over the murder scene. Lead defense attorney Johnnie Cochran became world famous. His ability to change the narrative from a murder trial to an attack on an African American football star by a racially biased police department was genius. Tricking the prosecution into allowing the defendant to try on the gloves left at the crime scene without knowing if they would fit OJ’s hands was a huge error on the prosecution’s part. The famous line, “if the gloves don’t fit, you must acquit” was what sealed the fate in favor of The Juice. To this day people that were witness to that trial still believe OJ was innocent or got away with murder.
Another famous trial occurred in 2011. Casey Anthony was charged with murdering her three-year-old child Caylee and disposing of her body. Six months after she disappeared her body was found close to her home. All that was left was skeletal remains and duct tape. The prosecution presented Casey as a ruthless mother who didn’t report her child missing for weeks and killed her so she could be free to party without having a child to worry about. The defense claimed Caylee drowned accidentally in the family’s pool and was found by Casey’s father George. They argued George told Casey to cover up Caylee’s death or risk spending the rest of her life in prison for child neglect. Similar to Cochran, lead defense attorney Jose Baez was able to change the narrative from a murder trial to one of a defendant who was sexually abused by her father. No evidence was provided by the defense for how the child died or to prove that Casey was sexually abused. Forensic evidence by the prosecution was dismissed by the defense team and labeled “fantasy.” Without taking the witness stand Casey was ultimately found not guilty on the murder charges but guilty of four misdemeanor counts of providing false information to a law enforcement officer. She was free to go with time served.
Two murder trials: both containing forensic evidence tying the defendants to the scene of the crime. Both were found not guilty though the evidence presented suggested otherwise. Both verdicts left many in the country and around the world wondering how can they be innocent when the facts presented should have lead to a conviction. How can two completely different sets of juries see things so differently than the people watching the trial at home?
Those two cases are examples of how information can be interpreted differently. What’s clear as day, lock’em up and throw away the key evidence by some is circumstantial and insufficient to convict to others. Is conviction or acquittal due in large part to a great legal team? Absolutely! We all know that the caliber of lawyer you can afford plays a large part in the kind of justice you are given. There’s an old saying. The rich and powerful get one set of laws and everyone else gets the other.
Those two trials were in a criminal court where the grounds for conviction require actual evidence just to bring the case to trial. The impeachment process is entirely political and requires no such evidence. That’s because the case is held in the court of public opinion. Circumstantial evidence and majority rule is all that is needed to remove a sitting president from office.
The public impeachment hearings that recently concluded by the House Intelligence committee are evoking a similar reaction to that of the two trials I mentioned. Democrats and many members of the liberal media feel the evidence provided by the witness testimony was proof positive of the president’s illicit behaviors. They feel stronger now than ever that all of the witnesses confirmed their beliefs that the president withheld foreign aid to Ukraine until they agreed to investigate his political opponent Joe Biden. In their eyes the president is guilty. The oath they took to uphold the Constitution demands that they proceed with formal impeachment hearings and that they are on firm legal and moral ground to do so.
Republicans and many on conservative media outlets have a completely different take on the testimony provided by the witnesses. In their eyes all they heard was members of what some have labeled ‘the deep state’ giving statements on what they believed to be the truth but with no actual evidence to back it up. Out of all those who took the stand only one had actual conversations with Trump and that was Ambassador Gordon Sondland. Sondland testified: “I never heard from President Trump that aid was conditioned on an announcement” of investigations. He said he never personally heard Trump discuss preconditions. And at one point, he confirmed Trump told him, “I want nothing.”
Not a single defense witness could confirm they heard from any member of the Trump administration that foreign aid was being withheld until an investigation against the Biden’s and Burisma Oil Company was conducted by Ukraine. Though none could make that claim they all were under the impression of that being the cause for the delay. One by one they all testified that they felt the withholding of foreign aid was improper and irregular. The only logical conclusion for the delay was because through Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, an investigation into 2016 election meddling by Ukraine needed to be committed to by Ukrainian officials prior to the aid being released. None of the witnesses can confirm Giuliani actually said this but all believe this to be the case.
So that brings me to my initial question. Does being left or right brain dominant play a role on how we perceive innocence or guilt based on the evidence that is provided? This goes deeper than do we lean left or right. Is there actual proof that shows right or left dominant brained people view evidence differently? If so, is this a factor lawyer’s consider when selecting jurors?
According to healthline.com there is something called the left and right brain theory. The theory is that people are either left-brained or right-brained, meaning that one side of their brain is dominant. If you’re mostly analytical and methodical in your thinking, you’re said to be left-brained. If you tend to be more creative or artistic, you’re thought to be right-brained.
This theory is based on the fact that the brain’s two hemispheres function differently. This first came to light in the 1960s, thanks to the research of psychobiologist and Nobel Prize winner Roger W. Sperry.
The left-brain is more verbal, analytical, and orderly than the right brain. It’s sometimes called the digital brain. It’s better at things like reading, writing, and computations.
According to Sperry’s dated research, the left-brain is also connected to:
- linear thinking
- thinking in words
The right brain is more visual and intuitive. It’s sometimes referred to as the analog brain. It has a more creative and less organized way of thinking.
Sperry’s dated research suggests the right brain is also connected to:
- holistic thinking
- nonverbal cues
- feelings visualization
Let’s take what we’ve just learned about the brain and compare it to how we lean politically. Hilary Brueck posted an article on Business Insider that went over this exact topic. She covered psychological differences that can help determine whether you lean conservative or liberal. For example, being scared can make you more conservative. Decades of research have shown that people get more conservative when they feel threatened and afraid. Studies have found that more liberal views on social issues are held when people feel completely safe from harm. The article covers many other topics that range from physical reactions to the site of blood, taste in music and artwork, levels of compassion, resistance to change, self control, and anger and trust issues as a child.
I don’t know if there is an impeachment side of the brain. What a strange concept. We live in strange times though. A sitting president is up for impeachment based on a consensus of quid pro quo with no witnesses who can corroborate as much. Groupthink on the left has many liberals believing the president is guilty of something because they believe it to be so. Three years of overwhelming negative media coverage confirms it as such. Republicans believe this coverage is proof of media bias. The two-year Mueller investigation, which was supposed to bring closure to Trump-Russia collusion claims, left a country with more questions than answers. Though our political party system is binary our interpretation of guilt or innocence is more complex than black or white. Somewhere in the middle there are shades of gray, which represent the truth. Perhaps it’s Trumps crudeness and sophomoric behavior that stoops to childhood name-calling. Maybe that is evidence of him being mentally unfit for office. That same uncouth bluntness of calling it how you see it, willingness to fight back, and feelings be damned is what attracts so many to his message. For his supporters those are attributes of someone who’s politically incorrect and honest. What impeachment comes down to is not if Trump is guilty, it’s if you believe he is. If you feel he’s undeserving of the office because enough people believe it to be so regardless of proof, your impeachment side of the brain is with the Democrats. If your personal feelings about the president are irrelevant and you’re reserving casting judgment until you see actual evidence of a crime with witnesses that can corroborate as much you are with the Republicans. If you are like many in the country who are so confused by the whole process and didn’t watch it because it was boring and entirely political you are not alone. There are better things to watch on TV than politicians arguing over an election from three years ago and whether or not withholding foreign aid is considered a bribe.