With Donald Trump as the subject of an official impeachment inquiry, we have entered another rare stage in our nation’s history.

It seems that division has taken root between Americans over impeachment, driving partisanship, disagreement, and doubt over our institutions. It would do Americans good to self-reflect on our own personal motivations and biases surrounding impeachment, and remember that impeachment itself is a complete process that must be respected.

Impeachment is not being used as a mechanism for investigation, but rather as a political tool. Arguing for or against impeachment today has become the equivalent of arguing for or against the removal of the president from office.

A recent Huffington Post-YouGov poll shows that 47% of Americans support both impeachment and the removal of the president from office. The same poll showed that 43% of Americans do not support impeachment and do not support the removal of the president from office. Most Americans, it seems, have already made up their minds as to the guilt or innocence of the president and have fallen into two camps, largely along party lines.

While I won’t wade into the muck that most commentators have these past few weeks, taking a side and arguing with an absolute, unbridled certainty for or against impeachment, I will say this: Impeachment is an essential part of the checks and balances of power in government, and is a process that must transcend partisan politics.

The U.S. Capitol, where an impeachment inquiry has begun in the House.

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Impeachment begins with the inquiry stage, a crucial investigative stage where evidence of malfeasance is searched for and the case for impeachment is evaluated. Thus, impeachment begins with an accusation of wrongdoing, then a collection of relevant evidence, and then an analysis of said evidence in order to deliberate over removal of a president from office. One reasons to a conclusion at the very end of the process, not the other way around.

To be able to state, with absolute certainty, the guilt of President Trump, and thus justify impeachment to remove him from office, does not reflect the way in which the process of an impeachment inquiry works—to be able to do so before even having access to evidence is dumbfounding.

To be able to proclaim the President’s innocence, and thus be opposed to impeachment, including the impeachment inquiry process, where information and evidence is gathered to be evaluated, is equally as dumbfounding.

Not A Witch Hunt

I don’t think I’m alone in stating that partisanship has become a growing issue in our country. The problem, however, lies largely within our own individual judgment. We must be able to separate partisanship from matters as serious as impeachment and recognize the real motives behind our own personal decisions, and the detriment they can cause to our institutions and common civility with each other.

Given this, I have a message of moderation for my fellow citizens:

To those on the right who claim that the president is innocent, and oppose an impeachment inquiry for fear of political consequences, you must recognize that Congress has the responsibility and job of government oversight, and that our Constitution has outlined a system for Congress to undertake to investigate and prosecute these matters.

This process will either produce evidence for, or against impeachment and removal from office. To cast doubt onto our institutions and self-regulating governmental mechanisms as just “witch hunts,” as President Trump and many others have done to save face politically, is disrespectful to our common institutions and undermines our republic’s system of checks and balances.

Partisanship has become a growing issue in our country.

To those on the left who now, and in some cases have from the start of the presidency, supported the use of impeachment as a means to remove a president who you do not like from power, you must recognize the backwardness and danger to our country that weaponizing Congressional powers entails. This reasoning for impeachment, in essence, opens up our government to be doubted, and further sow the seeds of division within our civil institutions, weakening the checks and balances we have in place.

In both cases, the upcoming 2020 presidential elections should serve as the outlet for pre-existing partisan beliefs surrounding the current president, not our country’s framework of Congressional oversight.

It’s time for us all to realize we have much more to lose than a presidency when we put party politics over our concerns for responsible governing. Truly believing in the process of impeachment, including in the critical fact-finding process associated with it, and reasoning to a conclusion separate from personal political beliefs is critical to our government’s functioning, and healing the partisan divide within our country.

I am guilty of partisanship — realistically, we all are. But as a suggestion, we should all stop and analyze the motivations behind our own beliefs in this polarizing time, and try to put party politics behind us when approaching important issues.

Look at things from many different perspectives. Try to straddle the line between parties to find common ground with each other. Try to honestly formulate strong opposing arguments against your own beliefs.

Ultimately, the responsibility of self-governance in a democracy requires us all to move beyond divisive and myopic political reflexes and take some time to ruminate deeper on our own opinions and decisions.

Perhaps, after some self-reflection, we can all rise above partisanship and give the processes and institutions of our republic the respect they deserve. Americans thus need to ask themselves this question: Why do you really support or oppose the impeachment process?

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