Former President Donald Trump was acquitted by the US Senate in his second impeachment trial on Feb. 13.
The second impeachment comes in response to the Capitol riots on Jan. 6, in which Trump is accused of inciting many of his followers to storm the building during the certification of electoral votes for Joe Biden.
Following the events at the Capitol, leading social media platforms removed Trump’s account, many blaming him for inciting the violence and spreading misinformation.
Many Republicans, even some within his own administration, outwardly condemned Trump for the acts of violence he caused, publicizing that they do not support or wish to be associated with him.
However, when time came to vote on his impeachment, those same people chose their party over standing against anarchy.
Sixty-seven votes were needed to impeach Trump, but only seven Republicans ultimately joined all 50 Democrats in the vote, a slight increase from just one Republican in the previous trial.
The Republican Party’s choice to still defend Trump after the riot not only disheartening, but also poses a grave threat to the structure of our democracy.
Five people were killed that day, many were injured, and political leaders feared for their lives, yet it still wasn’t enough.
With his acquittal, Trump is able to run for presidential office again.
If, and when, he does run again, there is a very high chance of him being reelected. Many poll staticians claim Trump only lost because of his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, and even so, his loss wasn’t by a large margin.
Trump even said himself that he could shoot someone on fifth avenue and he still wouldn’t lose his followers, which is sadly believable seeing the violent acts they were willing to commit for him when he asked them to, just six weeks ago.
People in his party liked the idea of publicizing that they don’t condone his behavior of the past few months, but chose to sit back rather than act upon it when given the opportunity.
This behavior is eerily similar to that of the Lehigh Administration and their handling of retrogressive events both on and off campus.
The same way Lehigh notified the community in a blanket statement email that they rescinded Trump’s honorary degree days after the Capitol riot, but has done absolutely nothing since to make up for the damage caused by its choice to honor him, despite four years of numerous complaints and petitions from the student body and faculty.
However, we can’t say we were surprised by the Senate’s decision to acquit Trump, or by Lehigh not acknowledging what this means for our future as a private university.
This follow the leader complex has taken over our government, and subsequently our educational institution, and it has become commonplace for people in positions of power to not respond to the opinions of the public.
Voicing discontent for him is the easy part.
Refusing to make change when it actually matters shows that the Republicans who voted for his acquittal, and the Lehigh board of trustees share a sole concern of preserving their reputations and alumni donations.
Here at Lehigh, we learn through our curriculum about broadening our horizons and becoming more accepting and understanding of people, especially those of different backgrounds.
We hope that the Lehigh administration can mirror the values that they try to instill upon their student body and faculty, and make an effort to stand against cruelty and bigotry in the future. By continuing to integrate immersive and inclusive education into all areas of the university, both in undergraduate colleges as well as within its own faculty.
We also hope that one day party politics will have less power over the functions of our government and that voting across the aisle can be more normalized and no longer seen as the betrayal of democracy, but a tenet of it.