The verdict has been reached and President Trump has been acquitted. On one side of the aisle are those who feel the acquittal was a sham. On the other side of the aisle are those who feel the impeachment itself was a sham. But regardless of the result of the impeachment, the process has benefited the American people.
When the Founding Fathers set up the checks and balances of our country, they envisioned a government system where every branch fought against the other for power. This unending fight for power would keep the three branches of government in continuous balance. A part of this system was impeachment. While the Founding Fathers might have originally envisioned this to be used only in the most dire times, the truth is, throughout most of the history of impeachment, it’s been a political tool. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Impeachment was first attempted more than 150 years ago. And many more times since. To this day, not a single president has actually been removed by impeachment.
The impeachment process
Some might look at the track record of impeachment and regard it as ineffective or overused. But just because impeachment might not succeed in removing someone from office doesn’t mean it’s useless. The process of impeachment shines a light on the dark dealings of government – both congressional and presidential. In the case of President Trump’s impeachment trial, it brought to light many details about the inner-workings of the Executive Branch. It also brought to light the corruption and willful ignorance of those in Congress – especially the Republican Party, which essentially worked alongside the Executive Branch to ensure acquittal.
A real threat to democracy
While some may argue that overuse of impeachment is a threat to democracy, it’s this cross-branch collaboration that poses a much more serious threat. When the Founding Fathers set up the three branches of government, they did not foresee the possibility that one branch would actually cede power to another. Such an act would undermine the very checks and balances they had set up. But this is exactly what has happened over the last few decades. Congress has increasingly handed more and more power to the presidency. And Trump has taken this power to its extreme – pushing, if not overstepping, the Constitutional boundaries of his office. Impeachment was Congress’ opportunity to wrest some control back to the Legislative Branch and bring more balance back to the government. But Republican shortsightedness has ensured that the next president will have even more power to ignore Congress and do what they want.
Impeachment’s larger purpose
This all brings us back to impeachment’s larger purpose. Thanks to the impeachment process, the American People are now better informed on not only the corruption in the Executive Branch, but also the corruption in the Legislative Branch. They can use this information to support politicians who worked for the best interest of the country, such as Sen. Romney and Rep. Amash. They can also use it to stymie politicians who chose the short-term interest of their party over the long-term interest of their country.
Ultimately, a government “by the people for the people” is only as good as its people. It’s up to all of us to ensure that the checks and balances of our government remain strong. Impeachment can only help us do the job.