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Impeachment vote was anything but personal | Opinion

Many of my colleagues and I – including some Republicans – have strong feelings about the President’s actions. Yet those actions did not drive our impeachment vote.

Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., speaks as the House of Representatives debates the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019.
Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., speaks as the House of Representatives debates the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019.Read moreAP

Over the past few weeks, some of my colleagues have suggested that Democrats are pursuing impeachment because we dislike the president.

This argument sidesteps clear, uncontested facts that other colleagues and I established through weeks of testimony from President Trump’s own officials and diplomats who have served our country for decades. President Trump withheld essential military aid to Ukraine – a democratic ally under siege from Russia – unless the country promised to help him cheat during the 2020 election. When caught, he refused to cooperate with Congress’s constitutionally-mandated oversight, effectively declaring himself above the law.

More simply, President Trump used American foreign aid as an asset that he could trade for personal favors. This is the definition of corruption, and impeachment is the only appropriate remedy.

So no – impeachment is not about personal feelings. It is about something much bigger and more important – it is about love of country and our precious Constitution.

Of course, many of my colleagues and I – including some Republicans – do have strong feelings about the president’s actions in office. Yet those actions did not drive our impeachment vote.

I may abhor how he has treated our planet – denying incontrovertible science and mocking a 16-year-old climate activist rather than dealing honestly and courageously with our biggest global challenge. His indifference to the environment affects our region directly. Instead of working with Congress to address our PFAS water contamination challenge, especially pressing for my constituents north of Philadelphia, the Trump administration has refused to label these chemicals hazardous or set a national drinking water standard.

We may also object to the president’s efforts to take away Americans’ health care. Not only is the Trump administration unwilling to defend the Affordable Care Act (ACA), it has joined a lawsuit seeking to overturn the legislation – with no replacement plan whatsoever. An estimated 133 million people would lose protections for pre-existing conditions, and 21 million people would lose their health-care coverage entirely – including 12 million adults covered under the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. (In addition, 3 million children would lose the coverage they obtained when their parents signed up.) In Pennsylvania, 858,000 of us would lose health care.

And more than anything, I have strong feelings about the president’s inhumanity and brutality toward the vulnerable, as is most clearly shown in his treatment of migrant children. Over the last several years, the president has separated thousands of children from their parents, put them in cages or jails (including in Pennsylvania’s own Berks County), and disregarded his own government’s medical experts about the devastating long-term consequences for children’s physical and emotional development.

In each of these areas, the president has pursued cruel, reckless, and counterproductive policies; it will take decades to undo the damage. Yet they are not impeachable offenses. Instead, they are the president’s policy choices, and voters will evaluate them at the ballot box. My colleagues and I understand the distinction.

Yet the president’s attacks on our constitutional order are a different matter. America’s democracy is rooted in the integrity of our elections and the checks and balances that ensure government accountability. By repeatedly soliciting foreign interference in our elections, President Trump has undermined Americans’ right to choose our own leaders and determine our national destiny.

By refusing to cooperate with legitimate Congressional inquiries – and claiming that the Constitution entitles him to “do whatever I want” – the president has attempted to undo the separation of powers that has served our country since its founding.

This isn’t a mere policy disagreement – and it is certainly not about personal feelings. This is about fair elections. It is about our national security. And ultimately, it is about who we are as a people. In this difficult moment, will we preserve our Constitution and insist on accountability from our leaders? Or will we allow a would-be autocrat operate outside the law?

Americans have strong feelings about President Trump. I am no exception. Yet I have stronger feelings about the United States and our system of government. Ultimately, this is about love of country, about carrying out a generational duty to protect our democracy. The House has acted; now I urge the Senate to do the same.

Madeleine Dean, a Democrat, represents Pennsylvania’s Fourth District.