Because America is a representative republic, and not a true democracy, public opinion is very important. As Representatives to their constituents, the lawmaker's need to have their finger on the pulse of the people. By reading the public opinion the lawmakers are best able to discern what the people want. They are then able to look at an issue from all sides and hopefully form an opinion that is best for the district or state that they represent. Public opinion should aid in the formulation of public policy; it should not control it. Lawmakers are elected under the assumptions that they are the best-qualified persons in that district or state to do the job of creating public policy. They devote their careers to the study of policy. They are able to look at an issue much more in depth than the average person, thereby making a much more informed decision. If they were to govern strictly by public opinion, then there would be no need for their services. .
On December 19th 1998, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach President Clinton. The Republican leaders knew that this was not a popular decision in the eyes of public opinion; but after looking at all of the evidence that was brought before them they had to do what they felt was consistent under the rule of law. By the time the trial was convened in the Senate, the mood of the people had reached one of reversion on the whole issue of impeachment. They were tired of watching the political positioning that was taking place. Also, there had been no new revelations about sex in the past few weeks, and therefore the people lost interest. The senators were left with two choices. They could have a long drawn out trial and listen to all of the evidence, then make an informed decision, which may not be aligned with the public opinion. Or they could follow the public opinion, which wanted the trial to end as soon as possible. They choose the latter.