For the People or For the Power?

The Capitol riots were a shocking revelation of the extreme patriotism of the conspiracy group QAnon. But perhaps what was even more shocking was that past president Trump incited the riots all along. Just a few days after the riot, the Senate voted to impeach Donald Trump. Trump made U.S. history by becoming the first president to be twice impeached. As we now know, nothing came of this impeachment as he was indicted despite a majority vote to convict. Nonetheless, the case itself displays major flaws in the Constitution which prevent us from seeing justice brought against Trump.

  1. 1. The Senate does not represent its people

    During the impeachment, 57 senators, or 57 percent of the Senate, voted to convict. Article I, section 3 of the Constitution maintains that every state, regardless of size, gets just two senators. This article is also protected by Article V, meaning it cannot be amended. The flaw, as political author Ari Berman calculated, is that the 57 senators actually represented closer to 62 percent of the U.S. population, not 57 percent. Nominally, they represented about 77 million Americans more than the 43 who voted for acquittal. While this is not the ⅔ majority required for conviction, it is much closer and shows that, had senators represented people, 77 million more Americans supported conviction over the acquittal. Regardless of the impeachment outcome, the trial showed that our system of representing populations really does not represent us at all.

  2. 2. The 2.5-month lame-duck period between presidencies supports corruption

    The Capitol riot supporting Trump didn’t occur during his presidency, but the time between November 8th and January 20th. The 20th Amendment is the reason this lame-duck period exists, but the presidential start date used to be even later, beginning on March 4th. In 1933, this amendment was ratified because people realized the power transition could and should be sooner. As times change, so too should this amendment. Other countries like Canada and Britain have lame-duck periods of under one-month, indicating this transition of power does not need to be quite as long as it is in America. Had this period of power transition been shorter, Trump would not have had enough time to encourage enough supporters to attack the Capitol.

  3. 3. The Electoral College is at the root of the issue

    If you haven’t read my article on the electoral college, check it out here

    Trump was only able to convince his supporters of election fraud because four states had incredibly close votes. However, he lost the popular vote by over 7 million votes — why do the votes in Georgia, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Arizona matter? Of course, it’s because of the Electoral College (found in Article II, Section 1). Every other democracy relies on the popular vote, but as we saw in 2016, the popular vote in the U.S. does not matter. Trump was able to rile up his supporters because of a few tens of thousands of votes that are nothing compared to the 7 million he lost the popular vote by. Had the popular vote been the deciding factor of the presidency, Trump’s supporters would not have set out to overturn the election results. 

If you’ve been pissed about the impeachment results, don’t be. It wasn’t voters’ faults that we just acquitted possibly the worst president in history; it wasn’t even senators’ faults. It was the fault of our government’s foundation: the Constitution. If the government was looking out for us, we’d have changed this document decades ago. Instead, it has been kept as a loophole for any president who hopes to maintain power. All we can do now is look to the next four years and hope they aren’t quite as bad as the last four. As always, stay safe, stay sane, and eat the rich.