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WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 18: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) presides over Resolution 755 as the House of Representatives votes on the second article of impeachment of US President Donald Trump at in the House Chamber at the US Capitol Building on December 18, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 18: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) presides over Resolution 755 as the House of Representatives voted on the second article of impeachment of US President Donald Trump at in the House Chamber at the US Capitol Building…

Trump is impeached: Three keys to understand the House vote

President Donald J. Trump has become the third president in U.S. history to be impeached.

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Witnessing the vote on the impeachment articles in the House of Representatives on Wednesday amounted to 11 hours of painful, almost childish exchanges between Republicans and Democrats.

It was arguably the latest evidence of the erosion of American politics.

One thing was clear, however: the Democratic caucus had research-based arguments to support the need to pass the articles on the abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, while the Republicans fell short of questionable counter-arguments rooted in troubling tribalism.

For all of us who were attentive to the "I yield back" of each legislator, it was difficult to find any respectable media or commentator who could make the case for the president or his party on social media.

Finally, with 230 votes in favor and 197 against, President Donald Trump was labeled on the floor of Congress as "an unorthodox president who has tested America's institutions with a series of uncontrolled actions," to quote the Washington Post.

These are three key issues in the impeachment vote:

1. The last heartbeat of U.S. democracy is, well, on the Democratic side

Alexander Hamilton used to say that government was instituted "because the passions of man will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without constraint.” That is why the Founding Fathers designed the impeachment process: to ensure that no man was above the law; that is, to avoid tyranny.

It is very difficult, however, to understand how political partisanship works, especially when it is as fierce as it is today.

Among Democrats, five people disagreed with the vote for both articles –two voted "no" on the first and three voted "no" on the second– and even Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii and candidate for the Democratic nomination) voted only "present" on both occasions.

Let's just say that breaking with consensus has never been as laudable as it is in the Trump Era.

Republicans, for their part, repeated in unison the script stipulated by the president, his advisers and Fox News, all voting against both articles.

In fact, the only Republican to disagree with the Party and the president, Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, had already resigned from the party and gone independent.

2. The importance of symbolism

No one can dispute the work of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the past year.

From getting the job to keeping the president in line, the 79-year-old California representative has carried out the impeachment decision and investigation process with calculated sobriety.

On Wednesday, while the younger members of the caucus and the general public were congratulating themselves by saying "Merry Impeachmas," Pelosi adopted mourning and sadness as symbols of what is really happening in the country.

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 18: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) immediately following votes on articles of impeachment of U.S. President Donald Trump in Pelosi's ceremonial office at the U.S. Capitol December 18, 2019, in Washington, DC. T (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Wearing a long-sleeved black dress and an outstanding golden Ann Hand eagle brooch inspired by the symbolism of the sergeant-at-arms of the House, Pelosi wanted to make clear what she had said from the beginning: This is a sad moment for the country.

"No one comes to Congress to impeach a president," the Speaker has often repeated, opening the vote by assuring that "the vision of our founders of a republic is threatened by the actions of the White House.”

3. This vote does not imply that the president is removed from office

No, Donald Trump will not pick up his bags and leave the White House after the Democratic majority in the House passed the impeachment articles.

The issue is more complicated than that and, paradoxically, is likely to be resolved in a very simple way: the Republican majority in the Senate can vote to acquit him.

But to do so, rules and procedures must be stipulated, for this is an unprecedented situation in the country.

What is true is that the Republican majority controls the Senate and, in theory, it takes a two-thirds vote to remove a president from office, and that is virtually impossible.

For those who still had doubts, it was only a matter of listening again to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky tell the media that any decision they make regarding the Senate trial will be "coordinated" with the White House Counsel.

(You can read our point two above and understand our argument.)

However, the House of Representatives still has the advantage of deciding not to send the articles passed on Wednesday immediately to the Senate, and to wait for the rules of the trial to be established to act accordingly.

"We are not sending (the articles) tonight because it’s difficult to determine who the managers would be until we see the arena in which we will be participating," Pelosi said in a press conference after the vote. "So far, we haven't seen anything that looks fair to us, so hopefully it will be fairer, and when we see what that is, we’ll send our managers.”

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