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President Donald Trump Evan Vucci/AP Images


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  • Impeaching a president used to be unthinkable, but now two presidents have been impeached just 21 years apart.
  • President Trump’s impeachment is a sign of a new political era in which impeaching a president will become common.
  • Michael Gordon is a longtime Democratic strategist, a former spokesperson for the Justice Department, and the principal for the strategic-communications firm Group Gordon.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.

As the Senate trial begins, there has been much talk about the historic nature of Trump’s impeachment.

As many articles have noted, it is, after all, just the third time in history that a U.S. president has been impeached. But, the alternative storyline is this: After only one impeachment in more than 200 years we now have our second in just 21.

Though it seems rare and remarkable now, we will look back on these times as the beginning of an era in which impeaching a president becomes routine.

A symptom of divided times

Trump’s high crimes merit both impeachment and removal. His subjugation of the Constitution is precisely what the founders envisioned. But the bigger issue is that the impeachments of Presidents Clinton and Trump are a reflection of our nation’s division.

Apart from a few defections on both sides of the aisle, the Clinton vote was largely a partisan affair. For Trump, the results fell even more cleanly along partisan lines. Public opinion is equally divided by party: Recent polls show that over 80% of Democrats and less than 10% of Republicans support removing Trump from office. Democrats and Republicans have never so strongly defended their sitting presidents, and when it comes to keeping the highest office in check, party loyalty trumps the oath of office.

Also reflecting our divided times is the fact that three of the last four presidents have lost the House in the midterm elections of their first terms. The exception, George W. Bush, lasted until his second term before ceding the House.

Energized opposition to the party in power, fueled by our increasingly polarized political environment, has set in motion this swinging pendulum that shapes our modern Congress.

Impeachment is not historic

Considering the increasing division in our country – no doubt exacerbated by Washington status quo – it’s likely that impeachment will soon become normalized.

We’re already seeing the signs: five of the last six presidents faced multiple impeachment resolutions in the House. While a resolution was never introduced against President Obama, he was threatened with it over his actions in Syria. George W. Bush faced calls for impeachment over the invasion of Iraq. And before the 2016 election, Republicans were already working on a strategy for impeaching Hillary Clinton.

The rhetoric and actions of our commander-impeached have only worsened the problem.

Impeachment is just a sigh at the end of a long list of his atrocities in office. While Trump remains president, and as his acolytes begin running, this hyper-partisan scenario in which politicians are undeniably innocent in the eyes of their party and undeniably culpable in the eyes of the opposition will undoubtedly continue to play out.

Alarming implications

This trend should be setting off alarm bells. Impeachment was designed to be a last resort mechanism. When it devolves into yet another partisan tool, it loses its punch – and hurts our country. The end result will be a system with no fail-safes, in which sitting presidents of both parties will be able to act with impunity.

So as the media and pundits reflect on these remarkable and unthinkable times for our government, don’t write them off as such.

Trump’s impeachment is less a historic moment than a continuation of an alarming trend – and a glimpse at the impending new normal for our nation.

As reported by Business Insider