On February 5, 2020, the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump came to an expected end in acquittal. While Senator Mitt Romney shocked the Republican Party by voting for removal based on abuse of power, this outcome projects a bitter year for the American political scene in another election cycle.
Trump, who has derided the entire process as unfair and an attempt to overturn his election, celebrated the following day at the White House with supporters. Claiming a “total acquittal” while being non-apologetic for causing the process, he later fired some key government witnesses in the impeachment inquiry. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Advisor, and European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland, along with Vindman’s brother, who worked in a similar role as his brother and had nothing to do with the impeachment, were all fired. In the most recent Democratic presidential debate on February 7, candidates decried this event while stressing the need to replace Trump. Senator Bernie Sanders, who looks in recent polls to be the most likely candidate to win and defeat Trump, said it set a terrible precedent for future presidents to ignore the separation of powers and intimidate government officials. Sanders argued this as he believed Republican senators knew that Trump had committed impeachable actions, although none in the Senate offered much rebuke apart from Romney who feared his conscience more than the President’s wrath. Not completely dissimilar to President’s Clinton’s acquittal, Trump now enjoys the highest approval rating and best chance of being re-elected in November as a result.
This outcome was almost certainly guaranteed given the people involved in this process. If impeachment was successful, it would likely be the death of the modern Republican Party and an exposure of Washington D.C.’s failures for the past indefinite years. This is because had matters relating to war and the emoluments clause of the Constitution been considered, it would be morally impossible to argue that Trump, let alone the U.S. Congress, have sufficiently done enough to uphold the constitutional oath in all areas. If Congress is fine with money in politics and indefinite wars, which it has been for a while, it should be no surprise when it gets a president who exemplifies the worst aspects of these in office. Given that an election is coming up and impeachment has already failed, it will now be up to the voters to decide whether the president should be replaced. Regardless, it still remains to be seen how much of an effect this will have on the election year.
While distractions and diversions may be a national modus operandi in American politics for some time now, all this can be seen as an exercise in revealing what should matter in government. Part of the reason Trump is president is because he has some instinct to call out problems where others have ignored them. The issue in his presidency is that his administration exacerbates a partisan divide and has largely failed to improve the health of the country and its citizens. While the Democratic Party and its leadership have more recently been heinous in failing to improve life in America too, all this once again points to the need for transformative, honest, and peaceful leadership away from political drama to something new. This could explain why Bernie Sanders is surging beneath the murk of the impeachment drama and is causing nervousness in both the political parties, but only time will tell on that matter.