The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Opinion | The perilous path of normalizing impeachment

Photo courtesy of Benjamin Applebaum / Wikimedia Commons
Washington, D.C. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas participates in an interview with Michael Isikoff from Yahoo News on June 14, 2021.

In 2019, one of the biggest stories in politics and on the national scale was the first impeachment in 20 years — that of former President Donald Trump for allegedly trying to abuse his power to convince Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden.

It happened prior only three years ago, when Trump was impeached for inciting an insurrection, thus becoming the first president in U.S. history to have been impeached twice.

In an ideal scenario, the process of impeachment should be approached with the utmost seriousness, devoid of partisanship. It is essential to avoid transforming this critical tool into a mere instrument of political maneuvering, as such a trajectory could lead to the dangerous abuse of governmental power.

Nonpartisanship should be the guiding principle in dealing with impeachment, exemplified by representatives breaking party lines during voting. This approach ensures a more transparent evaluation of the allegations, offering a clearer perspective on the merits of the case without being clouded by partisan biases.

Recently, House Republicans impeached Alejandro Mayorkas, the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, claiming that he “willfully and systematically” denied enforcing existing immigration laws and breaching public trust by lying to Congress and saying the border was secure.

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The push to impeach Mayorkas, failing once and then going through by a single vote, was led by none other than U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the proponent of conspiracy theories such as Jewish space lasers causing wildfires to the unfounded claim that Donald Trump won the presidential election in 2020. Greene’s involvement and spearheading of the impeachment only raises further concerns about its legitimacy.

After several failed attempts to impeach President Biden himself, House Republicans appear to have “settled” by impeaching his Secretary of Homeland Security. That way of settling only further points to a partisan attempt to “get back” at Democrats for the two impeachments of Trump.

While the Biden administration has been dismissing any impeachment threats with humor, the serious question remains: Is impeachment still a useful constitutional tool, or has it been irreparably altered into just another weapon in the partisan warfare of Washington? 

Impeachment may still sting, tarnishing legacies for all time, but the evolving landscape challenges its effectiveness as a check on executive power. As the nation grapples with this transformation, the true impact of these partisan impeachment endeavors on the fabric of American democracy remains uncertain.

Setting the precedent for impeachment as a back-and-forth game based on whoever has power would be disastrous for the democratic proceedings and norms of our country. We aren’t meant to do things just because we can, especially in politics.

As displayed by the aforementioned examples of impeachment by a bipartisan electorate, that is what our government should strive to achieve — not the literal mishandling of power solely because that party is in power and is unhappy with the undertaking of a policy from the opposition.

Regardless, it is important to note that this mishandling of power can happen on either side. Making impeachment a partisan norm is not meant to only apply to one side. 

In 1998, impeachment was a tool that was used sparingly. When we, as a country, were going as far as impeachment, it was shocking. Nowadays, it’s starting to feel like it’s becoming yet another crazy political occurrence that we are meant to pass off as normal.


George is a junior in LAS.

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