SEGOVIA – In weeks past the President of the United States has been a centerpiece of global news coverage for a call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky; Trump ‘asked’ the Ukrainian head to conduct an investigation into Joe Biden’s (potential Democratic nominee) son and his business connections to the eastern European state. Donald Trump’s use of his position to pressure the executive of Ukraine to commit legal dubious inquiries into a political adversary’s son, is at best a reasonable concern, and at worst a blatant abuse of his executive power. There is still, however, doubt on whether initiating an impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump is the right way forward.
Although most Democrats seem on board with impeachment and find the Ukrainian scandal to be extremely worrisome, they could be the ones most harmed by the process. Elections are drawing closer, and questions are being raised as to whether this is still a desirable action to take.
As much as the word impeachment sounds appealing, removing Trump from office is seen as a utopian fantasy. While this inquiry may pass in the House of Representatives, which holds a Democrat majority, the situation becomes problematic it reaches the floors of the Senate. Needing 67 of its members to vote for the measure, the likelihood of another additional 20 Senators to vote for the continuation of the inquiry of seems highly unlikely given that Republicans have consistently been voting within party lines. One can easily take a trip down impeachment memory lane and see how the Senate is essentially the biggest stumbling block when attempting to launch a successful impeachment investigation.
While impeachment inquiries have been initiated against previous presidents, it has never been in the history of the United States, been successful. An inquiry into previous Presidents like Johnson in 1868 and Clinton in 1998 all received vast support of the House of Representatives, but again it was the Senate holding their ground
. Therefore, this process is viewed by many as a waste of time and energy, which could harm the Democrats. An impeachment might anger Americans who believe the Democrats should be focusing on problems that affect regular citizens, and further strengthen the conservative hold of American public discourse.
One must not forget that this impeachment inquiry is taking place in the middle of an election campaign. The Democrats should be putting more focus on choosing a candidate capable of defeating Trump in the upcoming elections. This impeachment will become a primary topic in debates, neglecting other issues that are more important to the average America: Healthcare, education, gun reform and immigration to name a few.
Additionally, one of the main candidates, former Vice President Joe Biden has been the centre of attention in the Ukrainian scandal, this inquiry would potentially be detrimental to his campaign as this may distort his reputation. While there are several democratic candidates competing for the nomination, Biden is a frontrunner according to several polls, although the scandal has negatively affected public support for him. If Biden gets the nomination, the mere mention of the scandal could decrease the likelihood of Biden defeating Trump. The inquiry may give people the illusion that the Democrats want to take matters into their own hands through the impeachment process rather than trusting voters to elect a democratic candidate instead of Trump. Ultimately the timing of this impeachment inquiry will likely favor the Trump Administration as the Democrats will have to juggle different priorities.
In addition to the negative consequences the Democratic party will have to face, this process also negatively affects the country. The inquiry comes at a critical time in American politics; a polarized nation entering a critical election period. Impeachment might make things worse.
For Trump supporters, the impeachment inquiry supports one of their main arguments, that liberals and elitists in Washington dislike people like them. Their existing hatred for the “swamp” will grow from this process, causing further polarization. It is important to keep in mind that there are several people from different political inclinations that distrust Congress and politicians. Impeachment will create a more hostile relationship between politicians and citizens.
impeachment is risky, Nancy Pelosi seems to understand this. For many months, Nancy Pelosi has been pushed by some Democrats to initiate an impeachment inquiry, she initially resisted, arguing it would divide the country even more. Pelosi did however say she would support impeachment if “there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan”.
The Ukrainian scandal was more than enough.
Yet, it is important to note that this initial internal pressure came from D.C. rather than from the public. Most polls indicate that only between 42 and 49 percent of Americans support impeachment, which is not a majority. Nevertheless, one can note the drastic change in public opinion in just one week. A Quinnipiac University poll has been keeping track of support for impeachment finding that a week ago, only 37 percent of registered voters supported impeachment. One week later that number rose to 47 percent. A CNN poll also shows this increase in support. Back in May, only 41 percent of American adults were in favor of impeachment. Last Monday this number increased to 47 percent. Another interesting observation in the Quinnipiac poll is that Democrats are increasingly more united in their backing of impeachment. Democratic support for impeachment went from 73 percent to 90 percent in the span of one week.
Although public support for impeachment is increasing, is it enough? One does wonder what led the Democrats to initiate the impeachment process. Nancy Pelosi had previously been wary of the negative consequences this could have on the American public. This change of heart only corroborates the seriousness of the matter.
Pelosi is taking a gamble that this scandal will change public opinion and that it will convince people that Trump shouldn’t be in office. Speaker Pelosi is a woman of experience: She was instrumental in getting sufficient votes to pass Obamacare in the House of Representatives. Moreover, she was there when Republicans launched an impeachment against Clinton, which backfired and made them lose their house majority. Pelosi has carefully analyzed the consequences and is risking everything for this. Clearly, Pelosi views this situation as drastically different and is relying on the American public to realize that too.
Pelosi’s development in her stance on impeachment tells us that despite all these negative consequences and the possible risks, it is the right thing to do. As support of impeachment continues to grow within her own party, it is possible that Pelosi would have faced major backlash had she not announced the impeachment inquiry. It seems as if though she would have been criticized regardless of the actions she wanted to take. Within her party this was a necessary step to gain trust and support.
Though many risks are attached to the consequences impeachment may have, proper action needs to be taken for the sake of democracy. When a President has ostensibly abused his position for political gain, Congress and its politicians have a duty to protect the constitutional integrity of the country. The Watergate scandal remained the world that the rule of law is an integral part of a free functioning democracy; Consider this call a friendly reminder this still holds true.