Takeaways from the First Four Hours of the Second Impeachment

The House managers for the prosecution have rested after the first phase of this impeachment trial, which defends the constitutionality of impeaching a president who is no longer in office. They presented scholarship by conservative legal scholars in favor of the constitutionality of the trial, as well as a long video montage that depicted the events that led up to the riots of January 6.

Republicans will begin their arguments in the next few minutes. I anticipate that they’ll present their own bevvy of constitutional scholars, and show some screenshots of comments made by left-leaning politicians that they view as seditious, as well as a defense that I find stunningly short-sighted: the January exception. This “exception” has its roots in the idea that a lame-duck politician on his way out of office can say what he pleases and have his speech protected under the First Amendment. Moreover, they claim, because this particular politician is already out of office, bringing up past misdeeds can only serve to divide a country sorely in need of unity.

Such a defense shows an understanding of First Amendment that cannot even be described as sophomoric. The First Amendment does not give anyone the right to spread lies, engage in hate speech, or incite violence–all of which, arguably, the former president did during his January 6 address.

Viewing the montage, which presents a chronology depicting the former president’s speech and the violence it incited, makes me as angry today as it did on January 6. Actions on that day serve as a stark reminder that Trump did not accept the results of the November election–that, in fact, he perpetuated lies in his attempt to reverse it–and that he enlisted the aid of an angry mob to prevent the election from being certified. This is precisely the kind of demagoguery the founding fathers wanted to avoid. Even a cursory reading of Federalist Paper #10 confirms that.

In an earlier blog, I suggested that the second impeachment trial is a waste of time–not on the grounds of merit, but on the grounds that it will not result in 17 Republican senators convicting the former president. I stand by that assertion. However, I overlooked a far more compelling series of questions: why are Republicans currently in office interested in defending Trump? Is the Republican party interested in moving past Trump? Why would any party want to be associated with populism–particularly this brand of populism?

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4 Responses to Takeaways from the First Four Hours of the Second Impeachment

  1. Annemarie Coatney says:

    I think one of the largest factors in the Republican officials’ lack of interests in convicting Trump is their recognition that a great number of the people who elected them to office also voted for Trump in the 2020 election. There also might be a reluctance to so publicly and permanently say “Yes, we were wrong in defending him these last four years.” Most probably just want to move on from the embarrassment that was the last four years of government. The extreme support that came from Trump supporters may have seemed like an effective tool in the beginning, but the riot proved that that kind of fevered loyalty is more dangerous than useful. Getting Trump acquitted as quickly as possible will allow them to maintain their voting base while being, possibly falsely, reassured that now that Trump is out of office, another event like this will not take place again.

  2. Alexandria Kerr says:

    Firstly, I would like to respond to the idea that this impeachment trial is a waste of time. On one hand, I agree as it is known that this trial will not lead to any real consequences towards Donald Trump and is preventing congress from doing more useful things such as passing the stimulus checks. However, I believe that there are still purposes of the trial besides an indictment. This trial shows that there are people in this country trying to fight the threat to democracy that Trump and his cult are. This is an important message not just for the American people to understand, but also the rest of the world.
    As for why the Republican party is defending Trump, it is simply because they want to hold on to the power that Trump’s cult can give them. These alt-right and QAnon voters are very fickle and are the only reason that Republicans are still in power. It is known that there is a majority of Democrat voters in the United States, which is why Republicans need these extremist voters to keep them afloat. Additionally, if Republican admit that Trump was in the wrong, they will then have to admit that they have been spreading misinformation for four years. This will also harm them in terms of voters. In summary, it is all about the vote.
    Lastly, the Republican party is more interested in staying in power than anything else. This is why they are on the fence about moving away from Trump. Trump and his cult allows the Republican party to have a great amount of influence and power, and many Republican want to hold on to that. However, others are able to recognize how continuing to endorse Trump can lead to less power in the future, especially if the electoral college is removed, as being a moderate is the best way to get elected. This desire for power is why the Republican party is willing to be endorsed by alt-right populism, simply because it gets them more votes. The new generation of votes are more politically active and are more left leaning, meaning that it will become harder for Republicans to win by a popular vote or get elected into congress. The Republican party has to hold onto whatever votes they can get, which is why they feed into the ideals of the alt-right and QAnon.

  3. Madison Flowers says:

    I partially agree with the statement that the impeachment trial was a waste of time. Republicans were inevitably going to defend Trump because at the end of the day its all about the vote. These Republicans only cared about themselves and not serving justice for the greater good of the country. If these people were to go against Trump, they would lose votes from his supporters which kept them in office. Therefore, this leads me to say that the Republican party did not want to move past Trump. Republicans need these votes to keep their party from falling apart. After a long, miserable four years of watching America fall apart, the Republicans will seek to do everything they can to remain in power even with Trump no longer in office. Therefore, they MUST have the votes from his supporters. They simply cannot go against him. Due to this, the Republican party will take endorsement from radical-right populist groups because it helps them be in control. However, 7 Republicans voted to impeach Trump valuing their morals before political standpoint. This was not enough to overturn the vote, but it goes to show their were some who are ready to move towards peaceful democracy and value justice over all.

  4. Chloe Sharp says:

    While I agree that the impeachment trial did end up being a waste of time, I think that it needed to happen. If it didn’t, I feel like there would always be this ‘what if’ question looming over everyone’s head, and the politicians who tried him would have to know for the rest of their lives that they let this man who threatened their lives and the country’s very foundation off without even trying him for his crimes. I also think that it was important because once again, we got to see the insanity that the two-party system of this country has caused. The fact that so many Republicans stood behind him is despicable and just goes to show that American politicians, for the most part, only care about their reelection, especially since the prosecution built such a strong case against him, and the defense… not so much to say the least. Honestly, I don’t even think Trump’s defense team would even have to show up for him to be acquitted, because it’s not about right vs. wrong anymore, for the most part, it is only about Democrats vs. Republicans and we can not get away with running the country that way for long.

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