Trump’s Heat Level: Hot off an impeachment acquittal & blazing towards reelection

  • + The impeachment hot seat gave Trump increased political & presidential power!
  • + Trump’s blazing command of the Republican Party raises his temperature!
  • + Reelection is growing increasingly likely for Trump after an acquittal!
Source: Foreign Policy (MANDEL NGAN/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES/Feb. 4)

Why is Trump’s heat level Blazing?

Answer: Trump’s acquittal bolsters his reelection campaign.

In the first month of 2020, the world witnessed Australian wildfires, extreme military escalations, the (final) exit of the UK from the EU, an increasing epidemic scare, and more. With the world seemingly on fire in more ways than one, many had forgotten the once-hot topic of Trump’s impeachment. Nevertheless, Senate Democrats surged on, attempting to hold up what little democratic integrity is left in the United States government. To their dismay, Senate Republicans attempted (and prevailed) to thwart their [the Democrats] every action with extremely strict rules, blocking the call for witnesses and fast-tracking the process for a Trump acquittal. 

Regardless of the outcome (or the fairness) of the trial, impeachment had very little effect on Trump from the beginning in that it never made him feel pressured to resign. In the past, impeachment offered a check upon the president that, even if he was not impeached, he felt a heightened pressure to resign from office as members of the government obviously thought he had done something incredibly wrong. 

President Trump never felt this pressure and, ironically, he actually felt more confident in himself upon being impeached. From Trump’s perspective, the fact that his opponents resorted to an impeachment attempt AND he overcame it merely emphasizes how strong (or blazing) he is as a leader. Surely he is now ready for reelection. 

Who is changing Trump’s temperature?

Answer: The Democratic Party as they failed in impeachment & Iowa.

As a 2020 presidential candidate, Trump is grateful for the impeachment as it restricted a number of his Democratic competitors to endless hours on the hill that they may have otherwise spent campaigning. In a counterproductive turn, impeachment effectively maintained Trump’s ‘hot’ status at RAIA and emphasized the ‘not’ status of his democratic competition. To expand, the vote for Trump’s acquittal took place the same day as the Iowa caucus (given the delay in results), which meant that four of the twelve democratic candidates on the primary ballot at that time were unable to leave D.C. 

This is but one explanation as to why candidates like Mayor Buttigieg did substantially better than Senator Warren. Perhaps this has all been a spout of strategic campaigning? A ruse to distract his policy babysitters? Heck, maybe Trump had always planned on getting impeached in some twisted way of ensuring his reelection, it would certainly explain a lot… 

But back to the question at hand, who is changing Trump’s temperature? Well, whether they admit it or not, the Senate Democrats, as well as the Democratic party, in Iowa helped raise Trump’s temperature to “blazing” as they failed in their respective missions: impeach President Trump and carry out an issue free, technologically advanced Iowa caucus. 

What is driving Trump? 

Answer: The opportunity to overcome the Democrats again and again

As explained a bit above, a 2020 reelection is certainly driving Trump in a number of ways, whether he acknowledges it or not. As a 2020 presidential candidate, and more explicitly, as a leader who lives for the thrill of taking risks and confronting his opponents, impeachment appeared more as an opportunity for growth than a challenge to overcome. To Trump and his fan base, ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ has taken on a whole new meaning as an impeachment has ironically (and rather unfortunately) made Trump appear stronger as a leader (to his Republican fan base and party, of course). 

Speaking of, the Republican party is effectively driving Trump as well in the not so subtle ways of acquitting rather than impeaching him in the Senate. Also, in a slightly more subtle way. the Republican party is capitalizing on the ‘failures of the Democratic party’ (or as Trump refers to them, the “do-nothing Democrats”). 

Furthermore, in focusing all their (the Republican’s) attention on Trump’s State of the Union address and the shortcomings of the Iowa caucus, the conservative media consequently focused their attention on these matters. In effect, very little attention is paid to the fact that Trump was, in fact, the third president to be impeached, acquitted or not. 

American or not, what does this mean for you?

Answer: Trump has risen above checks & balances in the U.S., why would he care about those at a global scale?

With such little perceived impact of the impeachment trial against President Trump in the U.S., it’s easy to wonder: why bother in the first place? The short answer: party loyalty. The long (hopeful) answer: to uphold the very (democratic) principles the United States of America was founded on. 

Had the Democrats decided not to impeach Trump, they would have had to explain to their constituents, the media, foreign actors, and ultimately, their children (and their grandchildren in many cases) why they let the President of the United States go unchecked as well as allowed him to utilize the office of the presidency for personal gain. 

Although their efforts to uphold the democratic principles instilled in the foundations of the United States fell inevitably short, may history remember that they did all that they could. Moreover, may history make note of the moment the power of the presidency rose “above the other branches of government, freeing the occupant of the White House from the system of checks and balances designed to constrain him”.. While this impeachment failure is a dangerous precedent for any U.S. president, it is especially dangerous when that president is Donald Trump. Especially when the impeachment can be used as fuel for his reelection. American or not, this is why you should care about Trump’s acquittal. If a U.S. president’s actions go largely unchecked within the U.S., who’s to stop him from utilizing his seemingly unmatched power outside the U.S.? In other words, President Trump’s feeling of being untouchable in the United States will likely be reflected in his foreign policy – meaning it could have a more than direct impact on your society, economy and environment. Who doesn’t love geopolitics?

Sarah McFadden

Team Member of Research & Analysis