Starting on September 24, 2019, an effort to impeach President Donald Trump began when Nancy Pelosi announced the official inquiry, launching the United States into political turmoil. In the month and a half since then, news sources have been constantly buzzing with news about the process, who is involved, and what it entails, with many sources (such as the New York Times) doing a daily briefing about what has happened.
With many students at KO old enough to vote in the November 2020 Presidential Election, a discussion about politics is destined to arise on and off campus. Since the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year, two strictly political clubs have started up again: the Conservative Diversity club run by seniors Alex D’Addabbo and Bella Leuschner, and the Political Discourse club started by seniors Spencer Schaller and Jaden DiMauro. However, despite the existence of these clubs, the discourse around the recent impeachment proceedings has been lacking. Many students don’t know enough about the impeachment to form their own individual opinion.
As of November 11, 2019, the White House has not released the rest of the seven transcripts of the calls from President Trump to Ukrainian President Zelensky. President Trump has elected to not stay silent on the matter, tweeting the following on November 11: “The lawyer for the Whistleblower takes away all credibility from this big Impeachment Scam! It should be ended and the Whistleblower, his lawyer and Corrupt politician Schiff should be investigared for fraud!” This tweet was in response to the letter written by the lawyer for the whisteblower advising President Trump to stop attacking his client.
With all this going on, KO students have been thinking about the inquiry and wondering what comes next. KO is a liberally aligned school overall, with 45% of students identifying as “mostly liberal.” Because of that, most students tend to be in favor of impeachment in one way or another.
Many students have different opinions as to why it might be useful: some very explicitly want President Trump out of office, while some just want more people to understand some of the things that he’s done.
“The impeachment is a good process because even if Trump doesn’t actually get convicted, it is still good for this country to investigate what illegal things he has been doing,” junior Caitlin Budzik said. Trump has been accused of having a foreign country help him win in the election, which is illegal. “I think Trump is a corrupt president that doesn’t know what he is supposed to be doing or how he should be running the country. He just knows that he can gain influence and power through the presidency,” she said.
Sloan Duvall noted the importance of the timing of the inquiry. “I think the timing is important because it could have a big impact on the 2020 election, and I hope people take they reasons they want to impeach him into consideration even if it doesn’t get to the senate,” said Sloan.
Junior Niki Taylor is very open about not liking President Trump. She admits that she doesn’t know too much about the impeachment, but said she believes that “it’s about time people were concerned enough by some of his actions to do something about it.”
Senior Alyssa Pilecki thinks that Trump is “a racist bigot and his personality and beliefs are not fit for a president, especially the President, of the United States, which is a prominent superpower and has a lot of power and strength in the world.” With that being said, she said she is not in favor of the impeachment.
“I believe it is a waste of time,” she said. “If people really care about him no longer being President, then they will go out and vote against him. Then he is going to be booted out anyway. I do not see the point of impeachment at this time. If this was 2016 or 2017 and they had something on him then, yeah, it’d make sense.”Senior Ishaa Sohail agrees that it should have happened earlier. “I really think that it should have happened sooner,” she said. “The man literally said ‘grab her by the pussy’ and then got elected, and I don’t understand why that’s allowed.”
Snehaa Ram also doesn’t think the timing is ideal.“I don’t know much, but honestly, I feel like it is kind of pointless. His time in office will be over relatively soon and many stats show that he will likely not be re-elected,” said junior Snehaa Ram. “So, I feel like taking actions against him now don’t really benefit anyone and instead contributes to a hostile culture in both politics and among society,” she said.
Opinions on the impeachment don’t depend on political alignment either. “The ability of the House to impeach the President — that is, put them to trial for possible misconduct — is a necessary check and balance in the American governmental system,” said senior Spencer Schaller. “Even as someone whose politics often lean to the right, I believe that no one so high up in government should be there judging others morality when there is an endless list of their wrongdoings and evidence to back it up. The argument that someone is ‘doing a good job’ or that ‘it is wrong to convict your President”’has no real understanding of each citizens and representatives civic duty to defend the Constitution and fight against corruption. I just hope that if Trump does go to trial in the Senate, that the decision will be based off of the facts presented and that Senators do not simply vote for their political ‘team.’ Maybe America will finally see a President removed from office.”
Many students have also expressed opinions of wanting the impeachment to be over. “I do think Trump should be impeached and removed from office, but I think it needs to be done soon. As this drags on, Americans are starting to get tired of it and impeachment has become more and more unpopular,” said junior Braeden Rose.Throughout the search to get students opinions on the matter, a common theme was that students overall do not know much about the impeachment.
Many students at KO do not read the news at all, as expressed in a survey sent out to the entire school, and the students who do tend to get a lot of it from social media, like Twitter, Snapchat, or Instagram. “I think a lot of times people are quick to form really firm opinions on things they don’t fully understand or have a lot of information on,” said junior Cici Chagnon, “not only for impeachment but for political issues in general, and they become less open minded because of it.” In a study by Common Sense Media, 66% of teenagers get their news mostly from their parents rather than any other source. This formation of thoughts based on parental figures can lead to a lack of forming one’s own opinion, something that may influence students’ views on the recent impeachment. Junior Emily Karasik said she admits to getting her news from her parents and other news sources, which is how she knows about the impeachment in the first place.According to this same study by Common Sense, “60% of teens who get their news from YouTube say they are more likely to get it from celebrities, influencers, and personalities as compared to new organizations.” This brings up the age-old question: what makes a news source trustworthy?
These factors influence KO students’ opinions on the impeachment, which means that they might be forming thoughts based off of incorrect news sources. This isn’t just KO students.it’s an epidemic among teens.