An opinion essay from a foreign student who studies political science


This morning I watched the PBS Live Streaming of the debate in the US House of Representatives on to impeach President Trump and remove him from office before Inauguration Day on Jan 20th, exactly a week from today. The congresswomen/men were debating whether to adopt an article of impeachment that accuses President Trump of “inciting an insurrection.” Some Republicans acknowledged that Trump egged on his supporters to protest forcefully at the Capitol while the electoral votes were being counted and certified, but argued that for the sake of unity, the House should not approve the impeachment article on the grounds that impeaching the President only one week before the end of his presidency would only serve to divide America. On the other hand, Democrat representatives strongly argued in favor of adopting the impeachment article and were eager to procced with the agenda to remove Trump from office before January 20th. Knowing the complicated process of impeaching a U.S. President, I wish the Democrat representatives all the best.

Where I come from, Cambodia, discussing politics and especially criticizing the government is a dangerous act. So many critics of the Government were arrested and several were shot to death for committing which in the U.S. would simply be considered as exercising the right of freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. I am not American. I am just a foreign student who has been living in this country and studying politics for the past 4 and a half years. By Spring 2022, I will graduate from Smith College, one of the U.S. prestigious liberal arts colleges, with a Government major that focuses on Comparative Politics and a concentration study on Social Change and Community Engagement.

Here are my opinions on American politics in the past 4 years. I am tired of political dramas performed by Republican officials. It seems to me that for the past four years, the Republican Party ignored Trump’s dangerous rhetoric, shielded him under their wings, even going along with his false claims about election result. I am frustrated by those Republicans who prioritized their loyalty to Trump over the American people.  They devalued the power of American democracy and exposed the corruption of the U.S. political structures.

In a course I took last semester, Intro to Comparative Politics, we talked a lot about democratic depravity around the world. We analyzed the rise to power of populists and right-wing conservative leaders and we analyzed how they got there. Trump was not listed as a populist but his political rhetoric is one component that makes him popular among Republican supporters. His messages to supporters often make them feel that they now have gotten the country back and can now stand proudly by his side while he leads the country toward “the right path.” Trump’s political rhetoric distinguishes him from other politicians who largely adopt political rhetoric norms. Other politicians rarely use hostile terms to describe their opponents, immigrants, and gender non-conforming people even when they don’t like them. But Trump is a different guy. He openly calls immigrants smugglers/criminals and undocumented people “animals.” He praises white supremacists as “fine people.” He doesn’t care about racial discrimination and he is also not a fan of same sex marriage.

Trump has continued citing his false claim that the Nov. 3, 2020 election was stolen from him. He refuses to concede and has publicly announced that he will not attend the Inauguration of his successor in the tradition of a peaceful transition of power from the sitting President to a newly elected-President. While Trump was doing all of the above, many of the Republican senators and most of the officials of his Administration supported him or claimed that his words were spoken in sarcasm, “he didn’t mean what he said.” I can’t believe that such a misplaced act of loyalty happened in the U.S., one of the world’s richest and oldest democracies. Some of officials felt obliged to resign only after witnessing the shocking events of the  Jan. 6th insurrection. The list of terrible things that Trump and his Republican officials have said and done goes on and on.

A view of the U.S. Capitol hill from the Library of Congress where I interned in Spring 2020 before Covid-19 lockdown

On top of political chaos and a failed attempt to control a world pandemic that has taken hundreds of thousands of lives in the U.S, and millions of lives across the globe, I am now witnessing a revolution. I am inspired by the BLM movement, I am moved by the humanitarian acts organized by grassroots activists to help those in need, and finally Trump will be gone in a week from today. Now that Trump is impeached for the second time, I really hope that he will be removed from office before January 20th, to set an example that just because you are the President of the United States, it doesn’t mean that you can say or do whatever you want. Period. This is America and not a dictatorship country.

“Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.” _Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg_

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