Students, teachers evaluate impeachment proceedings

Sharing different viewpoints, students and teachers have been able to witness the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry through live updates. Though students have varying levels of interest in politics, the high profile of the impeachment has impacted views on Trump’s presidency and the current political climate.

Advancing the impeachment inquiry started in September, the last of the House Intelligence Committee’s public hearings was held November 21. Souderton students and teachers evaluate the meaning and impact of the impeachment as it occurs.
In the weeks following this last hearing, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has signaled her intent to go forward with the vote to impeach.
According to senior Cassie Rodrique, being a part of internships with Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick and Rep. Madeleine Dean has affected her view of the impeachment process.
“I definitely think working with Dean is influential because she is vocal on the impeachment,” Rodrique said. “While it doesn’t come up in conversation, I have begun to follow her on social media and that has led me to be more knowledgeable on the impeachment.”
Further, Rodrique’s standpoint regarding the impeachment inquiry has come largely from “what she has seen” during the Trump presidency.
“At the beginning of the impeachment process, around the start of the Mueller report, I’d say I was kind of hesitant,” Rodrique said, “but the process has opened my eyes to how it’s the duty of Congress to practice the Constitution.”
While Fitzpatrick has not come out against or in favor of the impeachment inquiry, Rodrique says that his background with the FBI in Ukraine has impacted his view of the proceedings.
“When it comes up in small doses, he does acknowledge that he has this experience,” Rodrique said.
According to senior Owen Bish, who is part of a similar internship to Rodrique, but instead working with solely Rep. Madeleine Dean, he has witnessed an outcry of support for the inquiry in his work with the representative.
“[In my internship] what I do is take phone calls, so I get to hear the opinions of many other constituents,” Bish said. “There’s been a pretty overwhelming amount of support for impeachment.”
Bish himself finds that the inquiry is “a good thing to go through with.”
“I think it’s a good thing that they’re getting more information about what [Trump] did,” Bish said.
According to FiveThirtyEight, a polling aggregator, though there are more in support of impeachment than against, 48.8% to 43.5%, respectively, the country is relatively evenly split on the topic.
For senior Naila Neely, developing an opinion on involved observing the situation as it happened.
“I would say that I developed an interest in the impeachment because it was in the news, and I think Congress is doing the right thing overall,” Neely said.
Though some are involved in politics in various ways, many students do not have any experience with governmental procedures, and being under informed or uninterested presents the challenge of developing a well-formed opinion.
According to social studies teacher Jessica Muller, she has “been clearing a lot” of this misinformation.
“There’s a lot of confusion on how someone is actually impeached and the difference between that and being removed from office,” Muller said.
While some students have closely viewed the impeachment inquiry as it occurs, others, like junior Vasty Mather, find it hard to keep up with.
“At this point, the impeachment does not phase me,” Mather said. “I do not think the process will get far enough to remove him before his presidency is over.”
For Muller, Trump’s presidency and the impeachment inquiry have provided talking points and real-life examples for topics mentioned in her AP Government and Politics classes.
“Trump being so controversial and saying whatever comes to his mind sets up for really great checks and balances, which is a key part of our class,” Muller said.
Regardless of what has been brought up in the report, Muller finds that the level of support for or against the inquiry has roots in party polarization, which is a part of what she teaches in class.
“The ambiguous language of the Constitution, saying things like high crimes and misdemeanors, opens a debate of party polarization where some say his actions are and some say they aren’t, and there we get divided again,” Muller said. “I do not think that our Founding Fathers would want us to be so polarized.”
Supporters of the inquiry have drawn parallels between it and the Mueller report, which Bish says he read as part of his internship.
“I think that I’ve seen recurring themes over the course of his presidency which lead me to think what he is accused of is not untrue,” Bish said.
Detractors, on the other hand, find the accusations against Trump to be a feedback loop.
“The Democratic Party has shown that they will do anything and everything to remove [Trump] from office,” Mather said.
Referencing Trump’s remarks towards Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, Muller said that Trump’s unconventionality can present a challenge to the College Board curriculum overall. Nevertheless, this unconventionality increases interest in the class at the same time.
“It can make it more challenging to teach to the theories presented in class because it goes against the norm,” Muller said, “but I think it does spark more interest in people either wanting to take the class or wanting to ask ‘is Trump even allowed to do that?’ which I think is a cool aspect.”