Vanderbilt professor gives post-impeachment remarks on MSNBC national news

Political science professor Jon Meacham spoke on MSNBC after the House impeachment became official


Emily Gonçalves

Vanderbilt’s campus from an aerial view, as photographed on September 1, 2019. (Photo / Emily Gonçalves)

Eva Durchholz, Campus Editor

Following coverage of the third presidential impeachment in history, Vanderbilt professor Jon Meacham responded to the impeachment on MSNBC East’s national broadcast. The House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress at 7:30 p.m. CT Dec. 18. After the impeachment was officially called, MSNBC viewers heard from commentators including Brian Williams and Meacham.

“Who would you rather be?” Meacham asked. “Margaret Chase Smith, the senator from Maine who opposed Joe McCarthy in the first months after he first launched McCarthyism, or do you want to be Joe McCarthy? Do you want to be a byword for selfishness? And short-term partisan gain, or do you want to be an icon of principle and courage? I think that’s a fairly easy choice if you frame it not in this cycle, but in the life of the country itself.” 

Meacham’s recall of the political environment during the Red Scare echoed the sentiments of other political figures, including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. In his speech on the House floor before the impeachment vote, Hoyer urged Congress— particularly Republican members— to demonstrate political ‘courage’ by voting for impeachment and stressed how impeachment votes will be viewed in history books.

Vanderbilt professor Jon Meacham (Photo courtesy Vanderbilt University) 

“I think what the Senate has to do is get to a point where they’re not simply reflecting what they think their constituents want in this moment, but offer a judgement that reflects the long-term health of the republic that has proven to be the best hope of man on Earth,” Meacham said. “But there’s nothing guaranteed about that, there’s nothing certain about our future. And every one of us has a particular role in saying no, we will not have the rule of law trampled by the demagogue of a moment.” 

Meacham is frequently featured on MSNBC as a Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential historian. This fall, Meacham taught a political science class entitled “Leadership” alongside former TN Governor Bill Haslam, a Republican, and Dean of Arts and Science John Geer. 

The Senate is expected to decide whether President Trump will actually be removed from office during the first full week of January.