OPINION: We should have paid attention to the impeachment

The impeachment trial is over. It only lasted four months. President Donald Trump has been acquitted, and it feels like everything went by in a blur. 

I should have paid better attention. 

You see, I’m (ostensibly) a busy guy — I have a full schedule and at Pomona College, courses are tough. I always have more reading, more papers, more tests and more stress. I didn’t have time to sift my way through a complex impeachment process that, let’s be honest, we already knew the outcome of before it even began. 

Of course the Democrats would vote for impeachment.

Of course the Republicans would vote against it.

But now that it’s over, I feel like I should at least know what happened, because what happened was a total, complete travesty. 

Not knowing why it was a travesty leaves me vulnerable to right-wing disinformation. This information contends that what Trump has done is not really that bad, and only makes me more confused and less able to advocate for my rights and those of my peers, a key component of democracy. 

So, when [Donald Trump] was finally impeached, I should have eagerly followed the proceedings, traced each development and watched in horror as the Republicans in the Senate blatantly showcased their contempt for American forms of governance, as well as the rule of law as outlined in the Constitution.

Trump has abused the powers of the presidency. He tried to threaten then-FBI Director James Comey into terminating an investigation into National Security Advisor Michael Flynn before dismissing him shortly after he refused, according to the Associated Press, an action that prompted the formation of a special counsel headed by Robert Mueller III. 

He’s used his office to enrich his businesses, violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause, according to Vox. He tried to manipulate Ukraine into investigating a political opponent by withholding badly-needed military funding, the offense that he has been impeached for, according to the Associated Press.

In short, Donald Trump has done many things that have warranted his removal from office.

There’s a reason that one of my professors suggested that my classmates and I keep a journal, since this is an “interesting” moment in American history — which is to say a moment that may very well precipitate its decline.

So, when he was finally impeached, I should have eagerly followed the proceedings, traced each development and watched in horror as the Republicans in the Senate blatantly showcased their contempt for American forms of governance, as well as the rule of law as outlined in the Constitution. 

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But I had homework. Lots of it.

So, I contented myself with the knowledge that I would help vote him out of office in November if he was acquitted, the likely event.

I failed to call my Republican senators and ask them to impeach Trump or even vote to have witnesses in the Senate trial. 

I failed to reach out to conservative and apathetic acquaintances and attempt to convince them that what Trump did has damaged our republic and that he should be held accountable.

But no, I let schoolwork and defeatism take the life out of me.

What difference would it have made anyway?

Except that it does matter, and what we do collectively does make a difference.

Which is why I’m writing this: to encourage you to take the time to pay attention to what is happening to our institutions. Research what happened in the impeachment proceedings, see how things worked and imagine how they’re supposed to work. 

And if we do that, then we will become informed, active citizens that will strengthen the democratic power of the republic.

Or watch helplessly as history repeats itself, as Trump country drags the rest of us down.

John Gibson PO ’22 is a history major from Kayenta, Arizona, on the Navajo Nation. His favorite superpower is the ability to fall asleep in a few minutes, not over an hour. His biggest wish is for more sleep.

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