Trump becomes stronger after impeachment trial


Photo used with permission from Gage Skidmore

After being acquitted, Trump has picked up momentum to get reelected.

Lucas Romualdo, News Editor: Online

President Donald Trump’s recent acquittal in his impeachment proceedings in the Senate will almost certainly give the president a political boost. The exoneration provided by the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate will only serve to strengthen his claims that House Democrats pursued investigations only for their personal political gain, at the detriment of both the presidency and the nation. Ironically enough, this same argument was used by the House impeachment managers to justify his removal from office.   

The Senate’s decision will only serve to empower him, showing that he is indeed above the law. With sure knowledge that he will not be penalized for abusing the power of his office, Trump will then have free rein to commit crimes as he chooses in an unprecedented manner. 

This acquittal will also signal a monumental shift in the U.S.’s approach to government: just as impeaching Trump demonstrates that Congress is committed to the Constitution, and the idea that our leaders are not above the law, his wrongful exoneration will tell the world that the U.S. is no longer committed to basic democratic principles of equality under the law and constitutional government. 

This effect will be amplified if, after his acquittal, Trump retains the presidency in the upcoming November election. Such an outcome has been made more likely by impeachment, as Trump is now able to use its moot outcome as a talking point: with the Senate’s professed exoneration, Trump is free to describe House Democrats as pursuing a partisan political witch hunt, only for formal proceedings to find him innocent. The image of “liberal Washington elites” sidestepping the passage of important bipartisan legislation for the sake of removing an “innocent” president will likely turn swing voters towards Trump this year.

It has become increasingly likely that a more extreme, more radical Trump will coast to reelection, jeopardizing Democrats’ past achievements and making the U.S. less democratic, both in appearance and in actual fact.

Just as Trump’s victory in 2016 led to backlash and a historic turnout for Democrats in 2018, conservative backlash against impeachment is likely to propel Trump to a second term in 2020.  Impeaching a president without broad public support will make the process appear more like a political ploy than a necessary legal procedure. This is not helped by the fact that no House Republicans voted to impeach Trump, while several Democrats voted not to impeach.

The lack of bipartisan support for impeachment among the American public and in Congress may hurt Democratic members of the House who represent Republican-leaning districts. This is underscored by Democratic Representative Jeff Van Drew’s decision to join the Republican Party, indicating his fear that being associated with the Democrats’ and impeachment effort will lead to an electoral loss this year in his district. Meanwhile, other Democrats in swing districts, such as Mikie Sherrill and Abigail Spanberger, have faced hostile town halls with many constituents upset over their support for impeachment.

These Democratic Representatives in more conservative districts are at serious risk of losing reelection because their constituents largely disagree with the House Democrats’ decision to impeach Trump. If too many of these congressmen lose due to backlash over impeachment, the Democrats will lose the House and Trump will enter a second term with complete control over the federal government.

Aside from the electoral impacts, his acquittal will show that the American people that the democratic norms enshrined in the Constitution are no longer relevant and that the president is above the law with the Senate’s blessing. This will also give Trump a stronger mandate, encouraging him to become more radical without the risk of retaliation from Congress or voters. This is likely to impact issues like immigration, government corruption and foreign policy, in all of which he has shown a tendency to act on pure instinct.

Impeachment will also make that scenario more likely: in the period between the inquiries commencement, and it’s conclusion, support for impeaching Trump has decreased (according to FiveThirtyEight, net support for impeachment was at 6% near the start of the proceedings and fell to 2% at the time of his acquittal). This indicates that as the public found out more about Trump’s actions, they increasingly supported him.

Regardless of the moral or legal necessity of impeachment, it is undeniable that it could have countless political downsides for the Democrats and further negative impacts on the international image of the U.S. Because House Democrats have chosen to pursue this course of action, it has become increasingly likely that a more extreme, more radical Trump will coast to reelection, jeopardizing Democrats’ past achievements and making the U.S. less democratic, both in appearance and in actual fact.