Article II, Section 4 of the United States Constitution goes as follows: “The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Historically, the process of impeachment has been strictly reserved for presidents who have been convicted of “high crimes and misdemeanors” while in office, such as presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton.
The process is not, however, reserved for presidents with polarizing approval rates, which is how it is currently perceived by the American people.
We have reached a standpoint in American politics in which the discussion surrounding something as drastic as the impeachment process has become a seemingly viable solution to distaste for our president.
Impeachment has become a partisan discussion, when in reality it should not be.
If we were to impeach every president who failed to please the American people, not one person who took office would be able to finish his term, as no approval rate has ever been, or most likely ever be, 100 percent.
Through the lens of President Donald Trump, despite the multitude of people who find his approach to the presidency impeachable in itself, impeachment is only a plausible solution if he can be proven of overt legal violations.
Discussions surrounding Trump carry to Lehigh as well, as over the past two years, feverish debate has surfaced on whether the university should uphold the honorary degree granted to him in 1988.
Despite the petition to revoke his degree, which received over 20,000 signatures, and the university faculty who chose to vote resulted in 83 percent of faculty supporting the revocation, Lehigh decided to take “no action” on the process.
Failure to revoke Trump’s degree raises the important discussion that conversations like these are devalued when they are approached from a partisan standpoint.
Despite the widespread distaste for Trump within our faculty, the way the university approached the revocation is similar to how the process of impeachment is intended to be.
The issue of impeaching a president is intended to benefit the country as a whole, not to appease a political party. Just as revoking Trump’s degree would appease the population of Lehigh community members who oppose him, it would also fail to meet the legitimate guidelines for revocation.
A New York Times op-ed stated that “impeachment could invite a wrenching partisan fight; render the party vulnerable to the charge that it’s obsessed with scoring points against Mr. Trump; and distract Democrats from focusing on legislation of more interest to voters.”
The argument can also be viewed from a contrasting standpoint, that opposers to Trump’s impeachment should not discount the idea of impeachment altogether, just because of their partisan ties, but to separately consider whether his actions are potentially illegal, and therefore grounds to impede on the expectations for a U.S. president.
This is a crucial standpoint to view the impeachment process, as it is essential to recognize that the process is not in place to serve as a win of one political party against another, but instead should be a united mission among the American people to ensure that our president upholds the United States’ own “principles for an equitable community.”