By Contributor Inica Kotasthane
Donald Trump’s impeachment, while seen as a victory for some and a setback for others, has acted as a seam-ripper for the remaining few stitches holding America together. Our nation has been praised for its democratic government, but in the time of the Trump presidency, public representation has become overshadowed by the politics of power rather than the politics of people—the very concept George Washington warned against back in 1796. The recent impeachment is a symptom of a much larger issue that has plagued the country for years —the polarization of political parties. No matter how you see it, this leads to the American people getting the short end of the stick.
For Democrats, the impeachment of Trump in the House of Representatives is a symbolic win, since it has no substantial consequences as of now. As far as the Constitution is concerned, Trump can still run for President in 2020. By pitting America’s two major political parties against each other, the impeachment practically eliminated any semblance of regard for American citizens on both sides. The interests of an already polarized American population was replaced with partisanship; there cannot be justice within a biased system. Whether individual representatives felt that the articles of impeachment were or were not valid, they were forced to make their own opinions second to that of their party; Democrats became obligated to vote for the articles and Republicans against. This pressure, stemming from a political mob mentality, resulted in a nearly clean vote between House Democrats and Republicans, with the exception of three nonaligned Congressmen, including one Independent, essentially confirming that votes were unfortunately based on party, not conviction.
Trump, despite being impeached, found satisfaction in this party-line divide, stating “We didn’t lose one Republican vote,” at a rally in Battle Creek, Michigan, going on to declare “And three Democrats voted for us.” Party opposition to one another is not only dangerous in the sense that nothing gets done in government but that the two major political groups within the country actively try to undermine each other at every given opportunity, giving practically no consideration to public opinion, only restrictive groupthink. One can observe this now, with Trump’s impeachment; regardless of political affiliation, the fact of the matter is that each party has continually pushed for their own agenda in the most aggressively legislative way possible, giving no thought to how it would affect the American people. The past four years have widened a division in political opinion, and the last thing the country needs is another point of conflict.
House politicians have lost focus on what their districts voted them in for, and political parties have gained immense power over constituents. If our senators and representatives become too fearful of becoming political outcasts within their parties, what does that mean for the people who voted for them? Worse, the representatives that have the guts to stand up against the mass views of their party are often shunned by their voters and their coworkers. One decision of a Congressperson that doesn’t align with their party’s values could result in retaliation from their constituents, pressuring a complete shift in political ideology. Take, for instance, New Jersey Democrat Jeff Van Drew, who opposed both articles of impeachment. Despite having sided with Trump on many issues beforehand, Van Drew was defined as a Democrat and was therefore expected to act within the typical confines of one, which included voting for the impeachment. After facing severe backlash from the left and distrust from the right, Van Drew decided to switch political parties, promising President Trump his “undying support.” It is horrifying to see a single deviation from party belief, even on such a significant as impeachment, be seen as a defection or “betrayal”.
Congress was created to be the most representative branch of government, and parties were created to compartmentalize and organize public opinions. However, in the wake of the impeachment vote, we have seen that Congresspeople are clearly only acting in the self-interests of their political parties, not the American people they were meant to represent. Abraham Lincoln, our nation’s iconic sixteenth president, is famously known for saying “A House divided cannot stand.” Unfortunately for us, our House is more divided than ever.