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House Democrats are proceeding apace to impeach President Trump again. This strikes many Republicans as vengeful and pointless: He's leaving office in seven days anyway. Democrats who huddled in fear for their lives in the U.S. Capitol last week counter that impeachment is absolutely necessary.

In truth, it's difficult to know, in real-time, exactly what we're looking at, or its ramifications. On this date in 1928, for example, RCA and General Electric placed a new gizmo -- the television set -- in several homes in the upstate New York town of Schenectady. The screens were tiny, the picture quality poor, the signal from WGY unsteady, and the pilot program being aired -- a drama named "The Queen's Messenger" -- utterly forgettable.

Something cataclysmic had happened, as it turned out, although not everyone realized it. "Whether the present system can be brought to commercial practicability and public usefulness," reported the New York Herald Tribune, "remains a question."

Some said the same thing about the Internet. And though it's tempting to poke fun at doubters and Luddites, the manner in which that medium has helped weaponize politics suggests that the second part of the equation -- its "public usefulness" -- also remains an open question.

Carl M. Cannon is the Washington bureau chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.

This article originally ran on realclearpublicaffairs.com.

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