COLUMN: Would impeachment legitimize American democracy?
In the midst of a massive political divide, one can’t help but wonder if following through with an impeachment trial and removing President Donald Trump from office would solve the U.S.’s problems.
Nov. 20, 2019
Sofi Zeman is a first year Journalism major at MU. She is an opinion columnist who writes about government and politics.
Before our current president took his place in office, talk of impeachment circulated around the very idea of the Trump Administration. With each passing day, these talks are becoming more and more real on Capitol Hill.
In Sept. 2019, a whistleblower alleged that President Donald J. Trump used his presidential power to get in contact with Ukraine to launch an investigation against current Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, in exchange for military aid. This is something that could clearly interfere with the upcoming 2020 presidential election, it raises to concern whether or not this is the first time the president has called upon foreign aid to advance in an election.
As a result of these allegations, Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced on Sept. 24 that Congress will follow through with a formal impeachment inquiry on President Trump to investigate whether the president abused his executive power. In October, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell openly told Republican senators to be prepared for an impeachment trial.
Only two presidents have ever formally faced impeachment in the U.S. In 1868, Andrew Johnson was tried for high crimes and misdemeanors. President Bill Clinton went on trial for committing perjury in the midst of the Monica Lewinsky scandal in 1998. Neither president was removed from office.
In the entirety of American history, an impeachment has never been followed by the successful removal of a president from office.
Because of the rarity of an actual impeachment trial, talks of impeachment are a much more serious issue than they’re portrayed to be. While an impeachment trial does not necessarily constitute the removal of a political figure from office, it seems that this is what some are striving for in this ongoing dilemma. Based on the rareness of an actual impeachment trial alone, chances are slim that Trump will get the boot from office.
But what would happen if there were no acquittal? What would happen if, for the first time, an American president was taken out of office? Would this be the right move to make?
Of course, a major benefit of removing the president from office would be bringing an end to one of the most controversial presidents in history. It’s no secret to the American people that this presidency has caused a political divide within our nation. While conflict between political parties is a common phenomenon, our country has been split down the partisan line. Riots, walkouts and rallies both in support of and against our current administration have been demonstrated throughout the course of this term. Taking out a figure that has influenced said division may be a possible first step to enable reparations within the country.
This would also validate the sanctity of the American election. Following the election in 2016, Trump was accused of using his foreign ties with Russia to win him the presidency. This is similar to the current issue, making it the second time that Trump has been accused of using foreign aid to influence an election. This not only reduces the purpose of a democratic society, but also lessens the importance of winning the presidency.
Having a regular, honest election process makes the U.S. government a legitimate body. Getting rid of a candidate who has allegedly made attempts to work the voting process makes these elections seem cleaner and more transparent. This could play an important role in influencing the public’s attitude on the process while going into the 2020 election season.
It still seems unlikely that we’ll reach this point. While in support of having an impeachment inquiry, polls have shown that the public is split in support of removing Trump from office. In Missouri, six of the state’s eight representatives have voted against moving forward with an impeachment trial. Among these voters is Representative Vicky Hartzler, a Republican that represents the City of Columbia in Missouri’s 4th congressional district. It’s also notable to add that considering the Republican Party holds a majority in the U.S. Senate, it is extremely unlikely that the vote will pass in Congress.
Despite the final result, it’s important that this issue has been brought into the limelight. Ultimately, the goal of this inquiry is to shine light on the true character of our president. Educating voters on what is going on within our democracy is the first step in teaching the American people how to choose a leader that is fit to serve.
Edited by Bryce Kolk | firstname.lastname@example.org