By Chris Luhring
Upon exiting the Constitutional Convention on Sept. 17, 1776, Benjamin Franklin was asked by passersby what government the framers had devised for the United States. He replied, A republic, if you can keep it.”
I have frankly just passed off the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry as just another depressing chapter in the partisan warfare between an unorthodox President and an often-vindictive majority House of Representatives.
However, it has become clear to me and an increasing segment of Americans that the president has so flagrantly disregarded the responsibilities and constraints of his office that it warrants his impeachment and removal from office.
Much to the chagrin of my Democratic friends who still hang their hats on the fact Secretary Clinton won the popular vote, President Trump was legitimately elected in 2016. The electoral process worked its will. He is entitled to the respect that the office demands. Many rank-and-file Democrats have not given the president the respect that his office deserves. This was perhaps best illustrated when the president attended a World Series game on Oct. 10, 2019 and was barraged with chants from the crowd stating, “Lock him up.”
It goes without saying that this echoes the president’s signature attack line against Secretary Clinton during the campaign. Perhaps this is merely an indication of the new political reality: a never-ending game where political parties play Russian roulette with a fully loaded gun at an ultimate cost of political discourse.
While Democrats can be charged with hyper-partisanship, congressional Republicans have flatly abdicated their constitutional responsibility to hold the executive to check. This is evidenced by Senator Lindsay Graham giving media interviews in which he encourages the executive branch to ignore subpoenas or congressional Republicans storming a congressional hearing to halt unflattering testimony about President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.
I have always respected the Republican Party’s sincere desire to protect the constitutional process. It is clear though that it also has been sacrificed on the alter of Trumpism and political expediency.
While the presidency is entitled to certain privileges and respect, it is also vested with constraints and responsibilities. Even a cursory observation of Trump’s first term in office illustrates his flagrant disregard for these norms and apparent violations of the law. This is evidenced by suspicious demand for loyalty from former FBI Director Jim Comey. It is further qualified by his attempts to circumvent Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged collusion in the 2016 campaign.
Perhaps most significantly, his halting of foreign aid in the hopes that Ukraine would launch an investigation into Hunter Biden’s business dealings, thus causing potential problems for his father’s (Joe Biden) presidential campaign, and his public admission of asking China to do the same, are evident violations of law that illustrate the president’s shrugging attitude towards the dignity of the office that he holds.
Despite my skepticism of Congress’ ability to adhere to an impartial impeachment process, the damage being done to President Trump’s presence in office outweighs the division and rancor that would be caused by his removal. It is time to, as Franklin advised us, keep the republic.
Chris Luhring is a freshman political science, philosophy and economics major from New Palestine, Indiana.