Even with a hasty impeachment trial in the House of Representatives, the Democrats struggled to find support in the Senate, which blocked any calls for witnesses on Friday, Jan. 31. By Wednesday, the Senate acquitted the current president, allowing him to stay in office.
Despite a majority vote for both impeachment articles of either abuse of power, and obstruction of Congress, impeachment only proceeded in the House with barely a majority of 54% voting for each, and on party lines. With such results in play, one can’t help but wonder, had the Senate already made up its mind before the trial even started?
“The [impeachment] result was abundantly clear. We knew he would get acquitted, so this whole thing was almost a waste of time because it didn’t exactly set an important precedent,” said senior Divya Kumar.
It has come as no surprise to many that the Senate voted against calling witnesses, as the impeachment process was coming to a standstill. Even without the witnesses, the real determining factors of the trial seem to be based on the party majorities in Congress.
“The Democrats all voted for impeachment in the House of Representatives, and the Senate was not going to remove him from office. It was partisan politics at its finest,” said social studies teacher Teak Bassett. “It is clearly an example of how partisan the political system has become and how little can get done beyond political base.”
The trial unraveling in real-time highlighted the division between the political spectrums, and how fragmented and outdated such a process may be.
“I think that the impeachment process was devised hundreds of years ago in an era where the power of partisan politics was not fully realized. As a result, there are many flaws with the system,” said junior Ronak Tallur. “If the process was solely based on facts, the outcome of the proceedings would have been much different.”
The Senate vote determined by rigid party lines, with the only one against party lines being Republican Senator Mitt Romney, who voted yes to Article I, abuse of power.
“Two things I found surprising is this, one republican voted for impeachment, Mitt Romney, and then there was one moderate democrat, [Joe Manchin], the senator from West Virginia, who sides with Trump a lot, voted to impeach as well,” said Bassett.
With such actions being seen as a surprise, impeachment is only a showcase of how polarized politics have become, not a matter of individual beliefs. With bipartisanship seen as a sign of weakness, the impeachment decision truly was predetermined before it even happened.
“It really echoes the Kavanaugh trial because they were going to vote on party lines. Everyone knew regardless of the Christine Blasey Ford testimony. It was so compelling, it made him look so guilty, but the way that people just voted along party lines, not only because they were scared that they would get rejected by their party or by their voters, they simply did not care,” said Kumar.
The entire state of politics has become so dependent on partisanship that dissenters are not given chances to come back, making the idea of right and wrong much more complicated. It has become a matter of left or right.
“A lot of people would like to see the government function more and come up with more bipartisan solutions that get things done,” said Bassett. “What’s interesting is that America is so frustrated with Congress, the House of Representatives and Senate, but then incumbents keep winning reelections, the same people keep going back, there’s no change in anything that’s happening.”