February 2, 2020

Impeachment Outrage Can Fuel Your Political Activism

girl in front of smoking volcano

Long before the impeachment process started in the House of Representatives, almost everyone agreed about the inevitable outcome: Trump would probably be impeached in the House, but the Senate would never support removal. To nobody's surprise, this appears to be exactly where we are headed. Those of us on the left should be preparing ourselves for the claims of "total exoneration" that will soon follow.

Even though the outcome of the process is predictable, I was surprised by the Senate's decision to oppose the will of 75% of Americans surveyed by not allowing witnesses and documents. Had they allowed these things, they could have at least looked like they were supportive of an impartial trial aimed at getting to the truth of what happened. Even if this was not really the case because they had already decided how they were going to vote, the process would have looked fair. This would have allowed them to argue that they thoroughly considered all the evidence and found it insufficient. While I probably would have disagreed with that assessment, it would have put them on much firmer ground.

I believe that those on the left who are outraged by the decision not to allow witnesses and documents in the Senate trial are right to feel this way. It is outrageous. I also agree with all those on the left who are now attempting to channel the anger they are feeling into a very specific form of political activism: increased voter turnout not only in the presidential election but for all upcoming Senate elections. I think we need to be realistic about this. If "vote them all out" was as easy as some are now making it sound, none of these Republicans would have been elected in the first place. This does not mean it is not worth trying; it means that those determined to make this happen are going to need to invest considerable effort in mobilizing people to vote.

For the left to have any real chance of defeating Donald Trump, we are probably going to need to set some records with regard to voter turnout. Even if we aren't passionate about the candidate eventually selected by the Democratic Party (which seems likely), we will need to show up to vote. We will need to show up not just for that candidate but also for Senate candidates. And because voter turnout in the United States is so pathetically low, we are going to need to tackle this problem head-on and do everything we can to persuade others to vote.

I encourage us to keep the following in mind:

  1. Elections have consequences, and this is true when it comes to Congress as well as the presidency.
  2. Although the two major political parties in the United States may have too many similarities for some of us, there are meaningful differences between them.
  3. Our representative democracy was designed in such a way that it requires our informed participation to function effectively.
  4. If our three branches of government are no longer willing to hold one another accountable, it is up to us to do so.