Trump Impeachment Graphic

Opinion columnist Brianna Wessling argues that Democrats should not rely on impeachment to defeat Trump but should instead focus on the 2020 election.

Opinion

Ever since the 2016 election, the word “impeachment” has been commonplace in our political discourse. Democrats in all different levels of government have been calling for a start to the process for months, and just in the last week House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the start of a formal impeachment inquiry, coming hot on the heels of a whistleblower complaint about a phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

During this call, President Trump asked Zelensky to initiate or continue an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. Many point to this as an attempt by Trump to get rid of one of his biggest threats in the 2020 election, thus asking a foreign government to interfere in our democratic process. 

This inquiry is an amazing step forward, but it’s important to remember what it actually is: a first step. There is no guarantee that this inquiry leads to impeachment or that impeachment would lead to a conviction. Historically, impeachment is a long process, and no impeachment has ever led to conviction. The formal impeachment of President Bill Clinton started in October of 1998, and didn’t come to a conclusion until February of 1999. For President Richard Nixon, an impeachment inquiry lasted for almost a year before Nixon resigned.

It’s very likely that this inquiry could last months and that the inquiry could end in no impeachment. While it can be easy to get excited about the start of formal impeachment talk, it’s important that the party sets its sights on a much more attainable goal: winning the 2020 election. If the goal is to get Donald Trump out of office as quickly as possible, the election is going to be the best way to do so. 

The election will almost certainly occur before impeachment proceedings move forward at all and will prevent Vice President Mike Pence from taking office. In order to win, Democrats need to focus on turning more people out to vote and uniting behind whichever candidate wins the nomination.

Voter turnout in 2016 was lower than in 2012 in key swing states, such as Ohio and Wisconsin, that helped Trump to win the election. It’s important to mobilize Democratic voters across the country, and especially in states like these, to ensure that the 2020 election turns out differently.

This election cycle, unlike in 2016, Democrats have a wide range of candidates to choose from in the primary. No one is going to like every single candidate or want to see every single candidate as president. However, all of them are better than the alternative. Uniting behind whichever candidate wins the primary is the only chance we have at winning the presidency and getting Trump out of office. 

There’s no doubt that the impeachment inquiry is necessary in holding the President accountable for his actions. However, as voters, we don’t have control over the results of the impeachment inquiry. We do have control over who takes office in 2020. So don’t let yourself get distracted. Don’t simply hope that we’ll get the first ever presidential conviction in the history of this country. Ensure that Trump gets out of office no matter what, and turn out to vote in the next election.

Brianna Wessling is a junior from Omaha studying English and journalism.