As the impeachment of President Donald Trump kicks into high gear, many Americans find themselves sitting back and scratching their heads in apathetic confusion.
The Senate recently commenced their investigation into the allegations against the President, and will eventually determine whether or not Trump will remain in office long enough to begin his re-election campaign. The trial is surrounded by heated rhetoric, as politicians on both sides wrap their cause in the American flag (see the selection at Atlantic Flag and Pole) and style themselves the defenders of American values.
However, the passionate commitment dominating recent news cycles has failed to percolate down to many American citizens, particularly college-age students like those at Florida Southern College.
“I think the idea of impeaching Trump has been around almost longer than he has actually been president, so I think that a lot of people just roll their eyes at this point,” junior Veronique Miller said.
“I see so much technicality and red tape that it seems almost impossible to get proof from either side,” junior Lily Langdon said.
Veronique isn’t the only student—or young voter, for that matter—that finds him or herself watching the latest political crisis with skepticism. A synopsis of US Census Data performed by Hamilton College stated that the voter participation of Americans between the ages of 18-24 has declined drastically since the 1970’s and fallen to 30 percent.
Political conflicts such as the impeachment trial bear a substantial share in reducing the involvement of young voters. Despite the bold statements and audacious claims of both sides, will the trial really change anything?
News sources—both in and outside of the US—agree that the largely Republican Senate would have to face a radical shift to actually evict the president, and BBC World News asserts that, “the president is widely expected to be cleared.”
What, then, are the expected results from a trial evidently doomed to failure? One possible answer is a further alienation of young voters already disillusioned with contemporary American politics.
Despite what each side of the trial would label their good intentions, the ambiguity of the issues surrounding the trial and the lack of moderation in the rhetoric of both sides made the whole affair seem sensational and surrealist. If either party wished to be taken seriously, they would need to reduce the heat of their language and adopt a more measured, reasonable tone.
The trial is predicated on serious accusations—that of President Trump abusing his presidential authority to slant the upcoming election in his favor—but the focus on Party politics has transferred the focus of Americans from the validity of the accusations directed at the President to a justification of their Party’s stance—further frustrating young Americans who feel that politics have shifted from sound policy to blind loyalty.
If this trial has done anything positive, it has revealed the depth of feeling and investment many Americans hold for their country.
However, it has also heightened division and exacerbated a sense of frustration and ineffectiveness. While the trial is built on important concerns, a combination of unmediated verbal aggression from both parties and a low likelihood of a concrete outcome make it difficult to take the trial seriously.