Opinion: Impeachment is not the answer

Atharva Weling

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“The other thing: there’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution, and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… it sounds horrible to me.”

There are so many questions surrounding the implications of the impeachment of Donald Trump. It’s the third time in American history that a president has been impeached, and if the Senate decides to make him the first president to be removed from office, their decision could have ramifications that extend across the world.

Is it morally justified to impeach Trump? Yes, absolutely. There is overwhelming evidence suggesting that the president offered the Ukrainian president a quid pro quo of investigations into the business dealings of Hunter Biden in Ukraine in exchange for the release of $400 million of Congressionally-approved military aid and a White House visit. This accusation is backed up by dozens of transcripts, emails and depositions. President Trump’s guilt is all but certain and his actions clearly amount to an abuse of power.

But should the focus really be on whether or not it is right to impeach Trump? After all, the effort is undoubtedly partisan, with zero Republicans voting for either of the articles levied against the president. Such polarization will undoubtedly follow the articles into the Senate, where the Republican majority could easily knock it down. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has even announced that he will not hear new testimony during the trial. Given the high likelihood that these events will not culminate in President Trump’s removal from office, we have to wonder whether the other effects they could have are beneficial to the Democratic cause.

The first possible benefit of impeachment could be that it hurts President Trump’s image and his chances of reelection in 2020. The problem here? That same polarization that has been made so evident Congress extends to the general public as well. More and more voters are being pushed away from the center of the aisle, especially on the right as Trump partners with the media to build a narrative based on a fear of Democratic “socialism” and “corruption.” Over the course of his presidency, Trump has made more than a few awful policy decisions and unseemly comments, but the fact remains that his core demographic of mid to far-right voters continues to vehemently support him. If anything, impeachment gives him another way to demonstrate his outsider position in Washington to them and give them more of a reason to vote for him as the only candidate not part of the supposedly corrupt Washington bureaucracy.

But the broader problem with impeachment stems from the fact that while the president has committed serious crimes against American democracy, nobody really cares. For most of our nation’s Democrats, President Trump was something that had to be dealt with whether he was impeached or not. Even if the entire impeachment process had never played out, they still would have shown up on election day and cast their ballot Democrat simply because they don’t like Trump. Rather than cause their base to become more vocal, impeachment risks pulling Democratic officials away from policy issues that are more important to their voters such as securing more funding for social programs. Without addressing these problems, Democrats risk alienating more moderate voters who could be essential on election day.

Not only does the public not care about impeachment as much as policy change, but President Trump has also actively created distractions from his wrongdoings. Whether or not his missile strike on Iran was designed to be a distraction from the charges against him cannot be confirmed, but the truth is that it has captivated the public’s attention. With the heightening tensions with Iran, impeachment, and the already pressing issues facing our country before either of these fiascos, Democratic candidates are forced to cover a broad range of issues to appeal to as many voters as possible, but in doing so, they lose the ability to have a strong rallying point against the Trump administration. They’ve spread themselves too thin and now they have to play catch-up, trying to tackle each issue as it comes while also struggling through the impeachment process.

At the end of the day, was impeachment even necessary? With the inherent lengthiness of the process, we could have to wait months before an end of this scenario finally arrives, especially as further disagreements have led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to withhold the articles from the Senate. But it’s an election year! With such impassioned public opinion against Trump, couldn’t a well-run Democratic campaign knock him out of office in November? What the actual result of impeachment will be is yet to be revealed, but it seems plausible that the risk may not have been worth taking.

Opinion articles written by staff members represent their personal views. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent WSPN as a publication.