The House formally impeached President Donald Trump in proceedings Wednesday night. This makes Trump the 3rd president to be impeached in American history. Now what?
It’s critical to mention the elephant in the room…or lack thereof: not a single Republican voted for impeachment; this is the only time in history where a president was unable to gather bipartisan support. The voter turnouts were extremely telling of the severity of polarization in American politics but come to no surprise for those who have been keeping up with politics over the past few years.
What comes next is still mostly up in the air in terms of whether or not Trump will become the first sitting president to be criminally charged in impeachment. House Democrats are urging leadership to hold off on sending the articles of impeachment to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell until he agrees to fairground rules for the trial. Senior aides confirmed that the House likely will not be transmitting the articles until at least early January.
In order to squash some misconceptions about the impeachment process, it’s important to note that impeachment does not mean that a public official will be removed from office…so what exactly does impeachment mean?
Impeachment is the process in which a legislative body charges a public official. Impeachment itself does not mean that the official is removed from office, it is merely the statement of charges against an official.
McConnell has been working hand in hand with the White House defense to make plans for the Senate trial. Early last week, many outraged Democrats argued that McConnell is in clear violation of his duty of “impartial justice”.
On the left, Democrats believe that the impeachment proceedings are justified, while many Republicans have expressed that impeachment is not the appropriate measure to be taken, arguing that censure would be more fitting. Even at the highest level of government, the perspectives on the impeachment proceedings are as polarized as that of the citizens they serve.
At Ferguson, students and faculty have opposing perspectives on whether impeachment was a justifiable decision. Political discourse on campus among students can be characterized by the argument of whether or not the impeachment of President Trump truly means anything.
“If nothing happens in the Senate, then it’s useless,” said Derek Delgadillo, a junior at Ferguson. “I would like to hope he gets removed but with the Senate being mostly Republican, probably not.”
Other students believe that the impeachment does mean something, whether it’s politically, culturally or personally. “It shows that no one is above the government,” said Rachel Suarez. “It’s the first time in his presidency that he has been punished for something he did.”
Many teachers on campus have taken it upon themselves to open discussion with their students to allow them to voice their position on the matter. “I teach my students about it and I feel like they should know what impeachment is and what the House vote was,” said Mr. Andion, an AP Human Geography teacher.
“I feel that it’s become too political. It appears that they [Democrats] are using a legal procedure to justify getting rid of a president because they don’t agree with his politics,” said Mr. Maldonado, a world history teacher.
The general consensus on campus is that most haven’t changed their opinions throughout the impeachment process, and they aren’t alone. In an NPR poll conducted at the start of the impeachment inquiry, it was reported that 65 percent of Americans believed that there would not be any new information or circumstances that would change their position.
“I think censure would have been the way to go because the way they have gone about it has been so partisan,” said Mr. Lage, a journalism teacher, and adviser. “It should be talked about not only in government classes. When you think about early American history, impeachment had a big emphasis on our constitution. It was around in early British rule and it should be taught more in schools so that way kids are well informed.”
One of the remaining presidential candidates of the Democratic Party, Tulsi Gabbard, shares similar sentiments as Mr. Lage and other Ferguson faculty: the impeachment process has become overwhelmingly partisan.
Gabbard chose to abstain from the impeachment vote for that very reason. “Removal of a sitting president must not be the culmination of a partisan process, fueled by tribal animosities that have so gravely divided our country,” Gabbard said
The impeachment of President Trump can be viewed as a larger metaphor for the state of American politics, the rise of polarization, and devotion to party lines. On one side, Democrats believe that this shows the will of the American people, while Republicans view it as an act of political vengeance.
Wherever you fall on the political spectrum, we must heed the words of the late U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy who said: “The constitution does not just protect those whose views we share; it also protects those with whose views we disagree with.”
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