After a hot summer, it appears impeachment season has arrived, and it is landing on a first class flight to the United States from Ukraine. While the proceedings against President Trump are sure to divide an already-partisan United States, the inquiry into impeachment has been a rallying point for Democrats, with nearly 228 House members calling for the president’s removal. Considering House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-California) caucus has been calling for impeachment since the 116th session of Congress began and has accused Speaker Pelosi of dragging her feet toward this consequential moment, all this begs the question: does impeaching President Trump even matter?
Within our own university bubble here at McGill, I’d be hard pressed to find someone who would say no, impeachment doesn’t matter. Yet, this type of thinking ignores how this process is complex. With that being considered, I also find it incredulous that impeachment could be perceived as a be-all-end-all endeavor when the majority of Americans are not able to correctly define it, and the majority of Americans do not support Trump’s removal from office.
The impeachment process is a long and arduous exercise
To partially understand why impeachment does not matter, it is important to dig even deeper into what the term actually means. While many think that launching an impeachment inquiry is the first and final step in removing a sitting President from office, this is not the whole truth. The impeachment process is a long and arduous exercise, one that will undoubtedly plunge American politics into a partisan fray unseen since the Antebellum South. In the event that the inquiry into impeachment passes on the House floor, it will then move to the Senate where two-thirds of the Senate must vote in favor of a guilty conviction of the President.
Historically, only two presidents have ever been impeached: Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson. It is important to note that both were acquitted by the Senate. While cliché, the phrase ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same’ is more than fitting for the situation an impeachment proceeding would find itself in. This is especially true when considering the stranglehold Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has over the Senate, all but ensuring any attempt at impeachment to be dead on arrival.
I do not believe that an inquiry into impeachment is what Americans need. The amount of time, money, and resources it would cost for a failed impeachment conviction far outweigh the benefits. To the majority of Americans, issues pertaining to immigration, race relations, racism, environmental issues, climate change, healthcare, gun control, and unifying the country, collectively outweigh the concern Americans have for the government and leadership.
Issues such as education, immigration, and the climate, amongst a myriad of others, began long before 2016 and will still be there in the years either post-Trump or Trump-withstanding.
As an American student here at McGill, I’ve noticed that one of the issues that pushes so many Americans, including myself, to come and study in Canada is the college affordability crisis we have back home. While not the sole factor in my decision to come to McGill, it surely cannot be ignored as an important factor drawing me here. I am certain impeachment will not solve this issue, nor the vast array of other problems which keep Americans up in the middle of the night. Issues such as education, immigration, and the climate crisis began long before 2016 and will still be there in the years either post-Trump or Trump-withstanding.
While it is more than understandable for the Democratic party to focus its efforts on Trump, I believe that if the Democrats truly wish to win 2020, it may serve them better to focus on Speaker Pelosi’s “Kitchen-table issues,” as listed above, which democrats rode on a blue wave into the House in 2018 with, rather than stoking the President’s base which, as I have argued earlier, will back him no matter what.
it would be fatal to misconstrue the idea of impeachment as the cure to America’s woes.
Understand, I still support the process of impeachment. I strongly believe that the due process of the law should be upheld, and it should take precedence. That being said, it would be fatal to misconstrue the idea of impeachment as the cure to America’s woes. Impeachment will not solve the deeply rooted problems with immigration, health care, education, or any other issue which impacts Americans on a daily basis. As a history student, I am convinced that the solutions to our present and future can be found by examining the past.
In the years preceding the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln opined in a speech—now referred to as the Lyceum Address—that Americans had fallen victim to “[w]ild and furious passions, in lieu of the sober judgment of the courts.” Lincoln had reasoned that if Americans wanted to ensure the stability of their democracy and liberty that they would have to rededicate themselves to “cold, calculating, unimpassioned reason,” and turn respect of the law into their “political religion.”
In an age where partisanship has reached heights not seen since the years preceding the Civil War, fixing America’s woes should begin with the actions of the American people. Our nation was founded on the principles of ‘We the People,’ not ‘He, the President.’ Impeaching President Trump does not matter so long as the fundamental issues which led to his inauguration remain unaddressed.