It is the morning of an historic day, and I am restless. I could not get an ounce of uninterrupted sleep last night, impatient for today to come.
My entire body feels anxious. Though I already know the outcome (the votes are there, and Democrats will undoubtedly vote to impeach President Donald Trump on Wednesday), this moment seems surreal.
After today, I will have lived through two impeachments in my lifetime. The first occurred when I was barely cognizant of its significance: as a teenager, I paid little mind to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, made jokes about its content with my friends, jokes that contain the level of maturity you might expect from a young teenaged mind.
In civics classes in high school, I later learned more about the process of government, including what impeachment was all about and its true significance. I took it all in, more so than my peers — politics wasn’t just something to ignore for me. It is the backbone of our society, and I wanted to be “in the know” of how things functioned, so that my ignorance of a subject wouldn’t relegate me to making snide jokes about it in the future.
Today, too many Americans are content to do just that — we share memes on social media that aim to create a response in the amygdala rather than produce a true conversation. We belittle the other side with these short missives, if you can call them that, that rarely produce meaningful dialogue and serve to only reinforce our beliefs rather than challenge the ideas of others, or challenge ourselves.
And thus, when the impeachment of President Donald Trump went from possibility to reality this past fall, it came to be that a segment of the American populace didn’t take it seriously. Supporters of Trump, in particular, viewed it as a partisan hit-job on the president, rather than an important “check” on his power. It became an opportunity not to provide a proper defense of the man, but rather to share contempt for those seeking impeachment — the way a fan of a local sports team might deride a rival team from a neighboring city with insults and petulance.
We shouldn’t take these matters so lightly. This is the impeachment of a president, one that is occurring for legitimate reasons, not partisan ones, that matter.
"There have been lots of Republican presidents, but they acted like presidents," a North Carolina protester said, at one of the pro-impeachment demonstrations across the country last night. "They didn't act like, I'm sorry, but criminals." https://t.co/otLkciDSLj
— Patrick LaForge (@palafo) December 18, 2019
When a president asks a foreign government to do a political “favor,” one that pays off for him but does very little for the nation’s interests, it’s significant. When that president tries to coerce that nation by suggesting they will withhold aid in order to secure a mere announcement of an investigation that will benefit them, it provides further evidence that this request wasn’t made with the American people in mind.
Trump used this opportunity to further his own ends, not those of the United States of America. And that is a clear abuse of power — of utilizing his office, of using his charge as commander-in-chief, to better his re-election chances rather than to provide security for the nation.
That is the first charge that House Democrats have made against the president. The second charge is equally terrifying for our nation.
Any inquiry into the actions of the president needs to be taken seriously, even by those who stand accused of wrongdoing. This president, however, rather than try to defend his actions, showed contempt for those who wanted the truth, who wanted to know what his motivations were, and wanted members of his own administration to explain them. Trump told his executive officers to ignore subpoena orders from a co-equal branch of government — a move that demonstrates he believes he is above the law, unable to be held to account by lawmakers he deems “below” himself.
Trump obstructed the fact-finding mission into the Ukraine scandal, and in so doing, it produced a second charge of impeachment: obstruction of Congress.
These charges matter. More importantly, responding to Trump’s actions matter. To have done nothing would have signaled that the manner in which the president had acted was acceptable, or allowable.
Impeachment of Trump is justifiable, not only to address the improper way that he has behaved while in service to the citizenry, but also to deter him from doing so again, and to prevent future administrations from using the office Trump presently resides within for their own personal gain.
The House is set to impeach the president of the United States. They are wholeheartedly right to do so.
It is incumbent on the American people to understand the gravity of the situation, beyond the memes we share or the typical right-versus-left arguments we wage.
This is no small matter — this is condemnation to the severest degree possible from the legislative branch to the executive. Impeachment is an attempt at political anathema, a quest by those who view our institutions as venerated to ensure they remain so. It’s a vote that aims to remove an individual who is the antithesis of respect and reverence from office in order to keep it from becoming dangerously toxic.
Today is indeed historic — the impeachment of the president doesn’t happen very often. Its significance should be lost on no one. And ultimately, the American people should realize that the actions of the House of Representatives today, the body charged with drafting and passing articles of impeachment by our Constitution, are justified, given the ruthless, disgraceful, and disrespectful manner this president has abused his office.