What Trump's Acquittal Means for America's Future

On Feb 6, 2020, President Trump was acquitted by the Senate on both charges (Abuse of Power and the Obstruction of Congress), ending the Impeachment Trial. The vote went almost entirely according to party lines, with Senator Mitt Romney being the only one who voted to convict Trump under the abuse of power charges. What does this mean for the future? This trial shows how far partisan politics has gone in the United States. The Senate trial was not something that was “fair and impartial." Ultimately, the polarization of parties affects how checks and balances work in the United States.

If a president commits a wrongful act it is the duty of Congress to make sure that they are punished for their actions. Trump’s acquittal can have ramifications on future presidents. In the future, the standards for a president’s actions will decrease if they are unable to be punished for their actions. Jon Meacham, an American writer and historian says, “It’s a dispiriting moment for an American system that in many ways was founded on the insight that, because humankind is frail and fallen and fallible, no one branch of government can have too much power.” When the legislative branch doesn’t recognize the faults of the president, it results in the president having more power. 


This trial also changes how party politics will work in the United States. We now live in a society where party loyalty determines the actions of the senate over conscience. Mitt Romney was the only one to put party loyalty aside in his vote, in his speech about his decision he said: “Were I to ignore the evidence that has been presented, and disregard what I believe my oath and the Constitution demands of me for the sake of a partisan end, it would, I fear, expose my character to history's rebuke and the censure of my own conscience.” Henry David Thoreau in “On The Duty of Civil Disobedience” writes: “Why can't there be a government where right and wrong are not decided by the majority but by conscience?” Almost 200 years later, we still have a government system where decisions are made by the majority and not by conscience.

Trump is the first president to face the possibility of re-election after an impeachment (Clinton was impeached during his second term). We have yet to see how the impeachment and acquittal affect how he does in his campaign and whether he gets a second presidency. But one thing is certain: the trial has changed how presidents will be penalized for their actions.