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SURIANO: Impeachment proceedings have fallen flat, are excessive


Column: A RINO's View

I am a political junkie. 

I cannot get enough of politics. I follow it, I volunteer for campaigns, I write about it and I talk about it. I even spent a night last semester watching returns from the United Kingdom general elections (sup ladies). That is to say I think about politics a lot, perhaps too much. So, I should be in my element with this impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump, and I should be attached to C-SPAN night and day. 

I am not. 

The whole process has me rather bored and I think most Americans feel the same way. 

One piece of data to support this is that the television viewership is pretty low, as compared to other recent events like the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. In a more anecdotal piece of evidence, as I was writing this column, my roommate asked me what it was about and when I told them they sighed, shrugged and walked out of the room. 

The question is why? Why are Americans — or perhaps more succinctly, why am I — having a tough time investing energy into this historic trial? 

The first and probably the most important reason is that the result is a foregone conclusion. I hate to break it to those who perhaps do not know this, but Trump is not being convicted. 

At this moment, approximately half the country approves of removing Trump from office. For impeachment, you need two-thirds of senators, so it is fair to say that you will roughly need two-thirds of Americans, or at least 60% of Americans, to make removal realistic. 

The founders made the level for conviction two-thirds as to make it a higher level of support needed than a simple majority vote. It would be a bad state of play if presidents could come and go with half the United States Senate voting for conviction. 

The other reason Trump will not be convicted is that he enjoys an incredible amount of support among the Republicans. He holds an 88% approval rating among the Republicans, according to Gallup

This is important because the Republicans are not going to break from the base. If the Republicans are not going to break from the President, he will not be convicted. I even think some red-state Democrats will break with the party and vote to acquit. 

Furthermore, democratic leadership has taken a path that will turn people off from caring. 

First, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) delayed sending the impeachment to the United States Senate in a ploy to get more favorable trial rules. This was a baffling decision, based on the idea that this would give her leverage over Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). 

The only problem is that it does not make any sense at all. Why would McConnell care one bit when the trial happens? 

The only people who care about getting the trial done are Democratic Senators running for president who would rather be in Iowa. So of course, McConnell got what he wanted, and Pelosi lost some of her reputation as a clever political player. 

But, more importantly, impeachment was used as a political tool which hurt its importance in the mind of the American people. Furthermore, it made the Democrat leadership look hypocritical as it rushed through the impeachment hearings because it was “so important to get this done quickly.” By delaying it, it made itself look dishonest.

This brings me to the other part of the trial that turns people off. 

Since there is not much drama in what the outcome will be, the media and the Democrats have focused on the question of whether there should be witnesses

Now, this is a good political weapon for the Democrats because people generally will think there should be witnesses. That being said, it again puts the Democrats in a bad light. That is because it was the job of the House of Representatives to get witnesses and present a case. 

The Democrats rushed the impeachment hearings and then delayed the trial, so it makes people believe this whole thing is for more political noise. 

Furthermore, if the senators are arguing over witnesses and not whether Trump committed high crimes and misdemeanors, they are more likely to tune it out. The more the United States Senate focuses on things not directly related to the important question, the more people will ignore the trial.

The American people are tired of both political parties. It has been four years of controversies from both sides of the political aisle. The majority does not want to have to care about Washington D.C. and I firmly believe people are not invested in this impeachment because it is just too much. 

Combine that with the fact everyone knows how it will end, and they would rather focus on other things before the election in November.

Robert Suriano is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in history. His column, "A RINO's View," runs on alternate Mondays.

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