“I think for many young people, we are asking ourselves what we want to look back on at this moment. [We want to] know that we did everything we could to take responsibility for our country, for our lives, for our futures,” Anthony Torres, the communications and political director of By The People, a campaign of organizers fighting for impeachment, told MTV News.
Nearly every poll on the matter reports that young people support Congress opening its impeachment inquiry into Trump. An Axios/College Reaction Poll showed that three quarters of all college students support it, including nearly all college Democrats, most college Independents, and nearly a quarter of college Republicans. Plenty of other polls tell a similar story, showing that young people are slightly more likely to support impeachment than any other age group. A The Economist/YouGov poll from mid-October shows that 51 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds support impeachment. Compare that to 50 percent of people between 30 and 44, 46 percent of people 45 to 64, and to 40 percent of people over 65.
This isn’t just because young people don’t like Trump — which, to be sure, they do not. Take Joel Acevedo, the president of the Brooklyn Young Republican Club. “I personally think Trump is a racist,” he told MTV News, also calling the president a “disaster” and “not a Republican whatsoever.”
But that isn’t what convinced Acevedo to support impeachment. For him, the president’s actions over the past four months turned the tables. During that time, a whistleblower reported that President Donald Trump had urged Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, and to investigate a conspiracy theory linked to the FBI inquiry of Russia’s 2016 election interference. In return for Zelenksy’s help, Trump allegedly dangled a meeting between the two presidents and nearly $400 million in Congress-approved security aid for Ukraine. And Acevedo isn’t not alone, either: Young people in support of impeachment jumped 12 points from July to October, polls by The Economist and YouGov showed.
Making matters worse, the Trump administration has repeatedly said demanding a favor from Ukraine in return for a meeting with Trump and $400 million in aid should not qualify as a quid pro quo — but the transcript of the call and Trump’s own chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, argue the opposite. (Mulvaney has since walked back his claim.)
“I'm from Brooklyn, I know a quid-pro-quo when I see one,” Acevedo said. “Anyone can pretty much tell he was holding foreign aid from an ally who needed it … not for America's interests, but for political gain and your own interest. That right there is impeachable.”
Young activists at By The People have been calling for Trump’s impeachment since starting their movement in August 2018, but the Ukraine scandal pushed them further. According to Torres, holding the president accountable moves above and beyond party politics and into the larger issue of how we want to remember our lives, actions, and country. For him, the president is conducting governmental malpractice — and we shouldn't let that slide. “Enough is enough,” he said.
“For young people like myself, for most of our lives, we've witnessed a series of crises from major disasters like Hurricane Katrina, to the financial crisis, to the vast abuses of power and near constant state of crisis and disorder of the Trump administration,” Torres added. “These last two and a half years [have perpetuated more] crises, like locking immigrant children in cages to incitement of racist violence and the rise of [white] nationalism. All of the crises were left unaddressed by those who were supposed to be adults in the room.”
To be fair, those crises, along with the Mueller report, did push some of the “adults” to call for impeachment, including many Democratic presidential candidates and plenty of progressive lawmakers. But Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi didn’t call for an official impeachment inquiry until after the news about the Ukraine scandal snowballed. Since then, 228 lawmakers and a majority of Americans have come out in support of the inquiry.
One of the earliest representatives to formally talk about impeachment was California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who first called for an investigation into the Trump administration’s ties with Russia in a bill on January 31, 2017. She sees the power in young people joining the fight. “I am proud of the fact that younger people have been in the impeachment conversation. They have tweeted me and supported me loudly and clearly,” she recently told Teen Vogue. “The millennials have been there and the Generation Z have been there saying they support me in impeachment and I think that their voices have been important in all of this discussion.”
There’s a reason they’re involved, Torres added: Young people are going to have to deal with the outcome of this inquiry and how it impacts future administrations for years to come. First though, they’ll bear witness to how representatives in the House decide to vote on impeachment — and, if such a vote passes, a potential decision on whether to remove him from office by the Senate.
“We are now going to take the reins and do what's necessary to protect ourselves and steer us out of crisis and put us in a place where we are having a government that values our voices, and that's in a place where we can be pushing back against the division, culture, corruption, and deliberate sabotage of our democracy,” Torres said.
“It sets a precedent,” Acevedo said, echoing comments made by Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders at the fourth Democratic presidential primary debate in October. “If we allow this to go on, if nothing ever happens and we don't impeach, there will be no standards. So that means that the level of what's impeachable or not, it gets lower and lower and lower.”
“In 10, 15, 20 years from now, we could get into a situation where it's worse than this,” he warned. “It's something that we need to, for lack of a better word, nip in the bud now.”