As expected, senators voted almost exactly along party lines on the decision to remove President Donald Trump from office. More importantly, their votes showed little regard not only for the Constitution and our democracy, but also for the will of the American public. It is now our responsibility to hold those senators accountable.
On the eve of the impeachment trial, a majority of Americans were in favor of impeachment and removal from office. A poll by Business Insider found that 55% of Americans were in favor of impeachment and removal, as opposed to the 33% against it.
Although these numbers alone, even if they had been accurately reflected in Congress’ decision, would not have been enough to remove the president from office—which requires two-thirds of senators’ support—there is one statistic that is even more startling. Seventy-five percent of Americans wanted the Senate to vote in favor of allowing witnesses to testify at the trial, as reported by CNN. Seventy-five percent of Americans wanted a real trial. And still, less than 50% of the Senate voted to give it to them.
“I don’t understand why Republican senators voted against allowing witnesses in the trial,” said Emma Murphy, a sophomore psychology major. “It feels like they are hiding the truth. You don’t have anything to fear if you don’t have anything to hide.”
The implicit question in Murphy’s answer—and the question looming over the situation as a whole—is why? Why were Republican senators willing to overlook popular opinion and vote against witnesses? An article by The New York Times offers two explanations:
On the one hand, voting to prolong the trial would add an unknown variable into the situation and potentially throw the Senate, and the nation, into a political frenzy. Especially in light of the fact that a majority of GOP senators undermined the impeachment investigation as a partisan effort with little credibility, the action of calling witnesses would imply that the senators were taking the trial seriously — something that they appear to be avoiding at all costs.
On the other hand, there is one very political motivation for acquitting the president as quickly as possible. The reality is that President Trump garners a strong base of support for the Republican party, and there are a number of Republican senators running for reelection who could face political consequences for alienating Trump supporters.
Both reasons lead me to the same conclusion: it is now our responsibility to show Republican senators and the world that regardless of their motivation, disregarding the will of the American people will never be an effective strategy for reelection. Congress, more than any other branch of power, is designed to be the voice of the American public. It is vital that in the future, it truly is.
This is the opinion of Veronica Backer-Peral, a sophomore film and television production, history and computer science triple major from Pasadena, CA. Tweet comments @LALoyolan or email firstname.lastname@example.org.