Locals weigh in on impeachment issue
Unless new information comes to light, it is in my view extremely unlikely that the Senate will vote to remove Trump from office.
— Professor Matthew Dickinson
ADDISON COUNTY — Last month, about 150 people gathered in the snow on Cross Street Bridge in Middlebury to call for the impeachment of President Donald Trump. The U.S. House officially impeached the president on Dec. 18, but public opinion across the nation remains split over the proceedings.
A Dec. 18 Gallup poll found that 51% of Americans were in favor of impeachment, while 46% were not and 3% had no opinion either way.
Although not as polarized as many other corners of the country, Addison County residents have a similar range of opinions.
In an online poll of our readers last week, the Independent found that while a majority of the 150 people who responded supported the president’s impeachment, a significant portion did not.
In posts on Instagram and Facebook, we asked our readers:
• Do you think President Trump deserved to be impeached?
• Do you think he should be removed from office after a trial in the Senate?
• Do you think he will be removed from office?
We found that 77% of those we polled thought impeachment was justified, while 23% thought it was not. Similarly, 73% believed the president ought to be convicted and removed from office after a Senate trial, a final step in the impeachment process as defined by the Constitution.
Around a quarter of those who responded to our polls did not support either impeachment or removal from office.
There’s one thing the majority of the people in our polls seemed to agree on: The president will not be removed from office. Only 18% of respondents said they believed the impeachment proceedings would end with the President’s removal from office.
Middlebury College Professor Matthew Dickinson agrees.
“Unless new information comes to light, it is in my view extremely unlikely that the Senate will vote to remove Trump from office,” he said.
Dickinson, who has been a professor of Political Science at Middlebury since 2000, doubts the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate will even call witnesses in their trial. And in order to convict the president, 20 Republican Senators would need to go against their party leader’s established position in order to achieve the two-thirds majority needed to convict. And with the federal government deeply divided on party lines, this scenario seems extremely unlikely.
“It’s not clear to me that impeachment has changed the partisan viewpoint at all,” Dickinson said.
State Rep. Harvey Smith, R-New Haven, said that he was troubled by the way the vote to impeach was along party lines.
“The way we work on legislative issues in Vermont is much different than in Washington,” he said.
Smith said he didn’t know if the president ought to have been impeached.
Whether or not President Trump is eventually removed from office, the months-long impeachment process is starting to feel like a drag for many Americans, including local elected officials.
“I think most are tired of Washington wasting time and money and are ready to move on,” said State Rep. Terry Norris, I-Shoreham. Norris, who told the Independent in an email that he did not support the President’s removal from office, echoed a sentiment held by many members of the public that the complicated and divisive impeachment proceedings have gone on long enough.
Dickinson predicts that this sentiment will become increasingly more common among the American people. “The longer (impeachment) goes on, the more support for it drops,” he said.
Dickinson expects that state and federal lawmakers will choose — and are already choosing — to focus on the future rather than just impeachment. For Republicans especially, he says the key issue is “looking ahead to 2020 and the election, what’s the best way to move past impeachment?”
Lawmakers may have to determine what is most important to voters — impeachment proceedings or the “business of governing,” which impacts their constituents on a more day-to-day level.
Like Rep. Norris, other local legislators are also choosing to focus on the business of making laws and on the future.
“While I don’t believe the U.S. Senate will convict President Trump and remove him from office, I am looking forward to his resounding defeat in November,” said State Sen. Ruth Hardy, D-East Middlebury.
Hardy noted that the atmosphere in Montpelier is much different than it is in Washington.
“I feel very fortunate to serve in a Senate where members of varying parties treat each other with respect,” she said, “and I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues to get important work done in Vermont this (legislative) session, regardless of what’s going on in D.C.”
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