Editor’s Note: Do not let political apathy get in the way of a historic moment

By Alexandra Yetter, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Alexandra Yetter
(312) 369-8961

In the far back of the Chronicle’s newsroom, news channels play on the TV throughout the day. So, when Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the U.S. House would be moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, Chronicle staffers’ eyes were glued to the screen.

This could be the fourth time in American history that the U.S. Congress has made significant steps to remove a sitting president—Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, who were impeached, Richard Nixon, who resigned before impeachment, and now Trump.

Pelosi announced the proceedings after weeks of investigations and pushback from trigger-happy Democrats hammering for impeachment. In order to remove him from office, however, the U.S. Senate will need a two-thirds majority vote, which many politicos are skeptical will occur. If impeachment fails, the Democratic Party’s reputation may be severely battered ahead of the 2020 presidential election in November.

While speaking about the news with Chronicle Faculty Adviser Curtis Lawrence, who is also an associate professor in the Communication Department, he told me this feels reminiscent of the aftermath of Nixon’s Watergate scandal in 1974.

He remembers his neighbor yelling at kids outside as she watched the hearings over her jigsaw puzzle— “Watergate is on, stop running through my yard!”

While the media went abuzz with Pelosi’s announcement, though, Columbia students were unimpressed—no doubt a result of the political apathy that is spreading throughout my generation and the college.

I’ve heard students claim Democrats have been attempting to impeach Trump since the 2016 election, and that the official inquiry is no new feat.

Complaints of the news media overblowing the inquiry have also been voiced by students on-campus, with the whole ordeal making them want to shut out the news even more.

There is something simultaneously heartbreaking and mind-blowing about these responses. At a somewhat-politically active, albeit liberal-leaning school such as Columbia, I expected hoots and hollers from the hallways and sidewalks after Pelosi’s announcement.

Part of my fellow classmates’ reasoning for their political apathy has merit—impeachment was teased to impassioned voters after former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony before Congress regarding Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections.

Others are worried about the line of succession if Trump is successfully removed from office. They worry Vice President Mike Pence may actually be the greater of two evils, especially given his disgusting LGBTQ+ rights record.

I cannot help but wish young people were more like Co-Editor-in-Chief Blaise Mesa, who not only watched Pelosi’s announcement, but also watched Thursday morning’s inquiry into the whistleblower complaint with rapt attention. We later chuckled at the inane questions asked by congresspeople, just as young journalists watched and mused upon the Watergate hearings of the ‘70s.

“Do they know how journalism works?” Mesa asked me, chuckling, as congresspeople asked about how leaks to the media happen.

Regardless of what happens, however, that does not mean young people, including those at Columbia, should ignore history being made. Years from now, people will ask each other where they were and what they were doing when Pelosi announced official impeachment proceedings, and—the spark that started it all—what they were doing when news of the Ukrainian whistleblower broke.

So, listen up, Columbia—the world is watching the impeachment investigation. And you should be, too.