The Senate voted to acquit former President Trump of impeachable offenses yesterday. It is a good thing.
The reasons for the acquittal are important, of course, but they can also be set aside in order to consider the event from a different perspective, the perspective of consequences.
For example, of the two possible outcomes — conviction or acquittal — which is more likely to be disruptive to our political society? I would guess conviction, because it would have made Trump a martyr in the eyes of his more energetic supporters. Acquittal won’t do much to appease them, but at least it doesn’t add to their grievances.
Another example. Of the two possibilities, which better promotes the rule of law? Here I would guess acquittal, because “not guilty” doesn’t mean “innocent.” The impeachment prosecution was so weak in so many ways (technically) that, in fairness, it deserved to fail for that reason alone.
Finally, of the two possibilities, which sets a better precedent for the behavior of future presidents? Acquittal does, because it sets no precedent at all. Try to imagine if Trump had been convicted. Would all politicians subsequently be more cautious in their rhetoric? Would we even want them to be?
All in all, the acquittal does more to preserve our system of government and our options within it going forward.