People question how Trump's acquittal will impact already polarized political climate

HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - A local political scientist said this is the most divided the country's been, and said Trump's acquittal didn't help.

Political scientists are questioning how Trump's acquittal will impact the already polarized political landscape.

Now that Trump's been acquitted, he'll be the first impeached president to run for re-election.

"I'm not sure if it should've gotten to this point so fast," said James Miley, a freshman political science major at Hastings College. "I feel like even in the House they should've taken a little bit more time.The motivation behind the votes was more party affiliation more so than the evidence presented in the case."

"I think the whole impeachment mess was avoidable," said Rep. Adrian Smith, (R) Nebraska. "It was unnecessary. The vote in the senate will be one that can be the beginning of people coming together."

Robert Amyot, professor of political science at Hastings College, disagrees.

He said Trump's acquittal raises concerns for how both political parties plan to attract voters, and what that'll do to an already polarized political climate.

"Out of the last 30 years we are the most divided we've ever been," Amyot said. "I don't think that the acquittal is going to help heal this country at all."

Amyot said the acquittal didn't necessarily widen the divide, but solidified the extreme polarization of both voters and political parties. That could be seen during Trump's State of the Union Address, when Trump refused to shake House Speaker Nancy Polosi's hand, and Pelosi ripped up Trump's speech.

Amyot said it'll be difficult for Democrats and Republicans to agree on any legislation that comes through now. He said Democrats are going to put their efforts into making sure Trump isn't re-elected, and Republicans will make sure they stick together and stand behind Trump.

This election will be all about mobilizing voters, especially the people who don't always vote. But Amyot said they're concerned candidates will use scare tactics to do that, creating an "end of the world" feeling if one is elected over the other.

"The other side is full of "idiots," "stupid people," traitors." Those are the kinds of words we're hearing from both sides. That's really troubling,
because that means if the other side does win, do we owe that governor, that president, that Congress any sort of allegiance?" Amyot said.

He said his biggest fear out of all of this is that people will lose faith in democracy. Amyot said people need to be more open-minded than ever, and make sure to check facts with multiple sources.

"I think it's important to remember that democracy got us a long way. Democracy is better than all of the alternatives," Amyot said.