Few subjects may be more divisive than politics and few topics may be more divisive in politics than impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.
The Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives voted Oct. 31 to formally launch an impeachment inquiry into the conduct of the 45th chief executive -- though, the largely party-line 232-196 vote represents a formalized step in what’s been years of accusations, investigations and criticisms of Trump’s presidency.
Much of the impeachment discussion revolves around Trump’s phone conversation with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25. The House obtained sworn testimony from multiple administration officials that Trump offered to extend military aid to Ukraine in exchange for investigations into the family dealings of former Vice President Joe Biden, a political rival.
It should be noted that while the House can vote to impeach the president, the process would then require a two-thirds vote majority from the Republican-held Senate to remove the president from office.
Talking with the Dispatch, lakes area residents often declined or were reluctant to speak on the subject in the vein of Aitkin resident Jan Walrod, who noted she didn’t want to comment at length because the issue has been a contentious one in her home.
That being said:
“One word,” Walrod said Sunday, Nov. 10, at a gas pump at the Holiday Stationstore in Baxter. “It’s bull----.”
Then there’s the likes of Jim Spiehs of Brainerd, who said he finds the issue of impeachment as little more than posturing or political gamesmanship, with less value to his daily affairs than any given college football matchup.
“I don’t worry about it,” Spiehs said Sunday at the Holiday Stationstore in Brainerd. “I don’t believe in it, this conflict between Republicans and Democrats. I’m neutral, I don’t even vote.”
In contrast, Steve Frawley of Lake Shore said he believes impeachment proceedings are a legitimate process addressing legitimate concerns of abuse of power -- though, whether they’ll get anywhere or make headway in the Republican Senate is up in the air.
“I think it’s pretty hard to predict,” Frawley said Wednesday at Central Lakes College. “If you believe in a democratic process, then -- based on what I’ve seen -- that’s the direction it’s going now. Time will tell.”
Frawley noted accusations of a quid pro quo by the president have been particularly concerning, especially in light of documentation and testimonies by federal government officials.
Citing the broken window theory, rural Nisswa resident Jon Strand said Wednesday at CLC that if Trump’s alleged crimes are to be tolerated and excused, it will only foster an environment for more and more outright corruption from people in power.
“We have the rule of law,” said Strand, who noted he hopes Republican senators will realize what’s at stake and vote accordingly. “When you have the president of the United States openly defying the rule of law, it cheapens the rule of law for the rest of us. It’s a cancer on our society.”