History is, admittedly, quite boring.
I’m normally not one to preach about how learning about the past will help us avoid future mistakes, because the average person will never be in a position to assassinate an archduke. But the long-winded and seemingly never-ending recap of the American political sphere does have some relevance.
Impeachment is a seldom-used mechanism in our legislative system. On only three occasions now has a president been impeached by Congress — two of which were in the last 25 years. As impeachment is simply a formal statement of the charges against the president. Nothing has ever been done to remove a president from office (aside from essentially threatening Nixon, who resigned to avoid the whole fiasco).
So, in light of the performance Congress put on for America before our winter break, why are we questioning what impeachment means? No one should be expecting a removal — that’s not what impeachment is. Nor does removal necessarily matter. The impeachment of Donald Trump is important objectively and historically, regardless of political alignment, and should be taken seriously.
Impeachment means that our leader, the person we should hold in the highest regard and to the highest standards, has been lying to us. It means our leader broke the laws, and broke our trust. So seeing people argue that Trump is “just impeached” or that “the removal process hasn’t started yet” clearly undermines the justice system as a whole. Nonchalant responses to such a momentous vote send the message that the average American voter is tuned out from a process that decides the course of history, and may be much of the general population’s only relevant involvement with the government.
Now that we’re back from break, we’re able to witness another subheading in a future textbook — this time in the Senate. The Democrats seem to be continuing their performative prosecution, in an attempt to catch the attention of you, the passively-interested American. Before the trial, the left pushed to amend the rules and evidence to an excessive degree. The Republicans grew frustrated and pushed to speed through this process. Democrats did not waiver despite losing on every amendment.
For the uninitiated, the House vote was 229 to 198 for impeaching Trump, with three Democrats crossing party lines to vote “no” (zero Republicans voted to impeach Trump). Impeachment passing without unanimity from the Democrats adds validity to the notion that Trump has broken the law. Political activists and people working in the field everywhere saw this blow to the President’s legitimacy as a sign of our breaking point rapidly approaching, as if we’ve watched the rubber band of democracy stretch and stretch, and we can feel the snapping point coming up.
The Republican Party has been unified in their beliefs and actions. They voted as one on amendments and impeachment. It also speaks volumes that many people in Washington believe that even though Trump’s aides have been subpoenaed as witnesses before, there is a greater chance they will respond to a Senate subpoena because of the party affiliation.
A united party, especially one willing to rally under an impeached President, is a dangerous weapon. Party line has seemed to outweigh rationality and individuality, causing the right to resemble a cult following their selected figurehead. They have begun to value party ideology over correctness, and winning over justice. Aggressive partisanship in America will only lead to a reduction in our overall progress. The bureaucracy is already excruciatingly static. Butting heads, starting wars, and blindly worshipping poll leaders for respective parties is the antithesis of conversation.
No matter where you land on the political spectrum, I encourage you to always hear the other side. Work to understand others’ arguments and allow for substantive conversation. Our greatest political fear should not be of those who disagree, but rather a world in which we are not allowed to. In 20, 30, 50 years, I want teenagers to be bored learning about this impeachment. Not to see it as one of the many escalations of partisan warring in America.