Trump Impeachment

Former president acquitted for actions taken during the Jan. 6 riots. How does this affect democracy and could it happen again?

Hailey Griffin, Arts Editor

It’s the first time in U.S. history that a president has been impeached twice. Likewise, it’s the first time that a president has been tried after he’s left office.

While Trump’s current defense team has argued that it’s unconstitutional to try a president for impeachment after he has left office, the House of Representatives has made it clear that the need to pursue Trump’s conviction is imminent. I’m inclined to agree.

I think it would suffice to say that the reason for Trump’s second impeachment didn’t just begin on the afternoon of Jan. 6. The slow buildup of tension that resulted in catastrophe at the Capitol began months before, at each Trump rally, within each Tweet, within every instance where Trump claimed that the election results were fraudulent without substantiated evidence.

Yet, still, there are those who choose to deny that Trump’s actions on Jan. 6 and his actions prior to Jan. 6 have anything to do with the insurrection. The question is, though, will his current defense team be able to convince the Senate of this? Apparently, yes, as the senate voted to acquit him despite the majority voting to convict.

According to an article published by NPR, Trump’s defense team claims that Trump’s words outside of the Capitol on Jan. 6 did not incite violent behavior. However, it could be concluded that in many people’s eyes, Trump’s words that day, “We fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” come off as an invitation for violence.

The Senate’s decision mimicked Trump’s first impeachment trial in that Republican senators were too blindly loyal to their party to do the moral thing. With Trump being acquitted, the integrity and accountability that should coincide with the notion of democracy has disappeared.

Without punishment for Trump’s actions, the world has seen that a breach of national security not only went without consequence but also has been tolerated and is able to happen again. This is a shameful moment in American history, demonstrating to citizens that the lines between functionality and disorder have truly been blurred.

More importantly, Trump’s acquittal allows him to be a potential candidate in 2024, which is a threat that needs to be kept in mind. We can only guess how detrimental another election of that caliber would be to both our population and our democracy. To avoid further deterioration of said democracy, we must hold Trump accountable for his actions in our own minds even when the Senate refuses to.