From town halls to the state house, Vermont activists push for Bush impeachment
Thursday December 21, 2006
Earlier this year, five towns in the state of Vermont gained national attention when they passed articles of impeachment against President George W. Bush. Now RAW STORY has learned that more Vermont towns -- and some state legislators -- are gearing up to do the same.
Organizers in 40 towns across the state are currently collecting signatures in support of Bush's impeachment. They report having already surpassed the required number of signatures in the towns of Westminster and Brookline and are preparing to present them to their respective Town Clerks.
"There are some different variations going around," according to Dan DeWalt, a primary organizer in the effort. But DeWalt said that, though the language in the text may vary from town to town, the primary charges are unchanged. "The charges are spying on Americans, torture, and lying about the war."
"There will be variations," he explained, "but all they'll all be citing the same reasons."
"I think Vermont plays a central role," says John Nichols, Washington Correspondent for The Nation and author of The Genius of Impeachment: The Founder' Cure for Royalism, "because at this time, impeachment is very nascent and the process is beginning rather than finishing."
Nichols isn't holding out false hope for his cause. "If Vermont passes a law on additional resolutions on impeachment," he told RAW STORY, "it's news attention; it makes a story of it... It doesn't mean Vermont's going to impeach the President. What it does mean is that Vermont put impeachment on the table."
Although the movement may have ample energy and enthusiasm, gathering the required number of signatures could pose a challenge. Organizers are looking for more volunteers, whose willingness to venture out into the bitter cold will make all the difference.
"It's a bit of an uphill climb for me," says Craig Hill, who is spearheading the effort in Montpelier, "because I need 400 signatures and to do this in this cold weather will be tough."
Still, Hill characterizes his feelings for the work as "positive and optimistic," telling RAW STORY, "I see all the opportunity we have to make a huge impact. We just need the numbers, and people with energy, enthusiasm."
Hill believes that the articles could make a national impact. "If we help and get 100 towns to pass it and put it on the ballot," he explains, "there will be numbers of articles and great enthusiasm across the country."
While efforts on the ground are getting established, lawmakers are also considering legislation at the state level. The Vermont Democratic State Committee approved Section 603 of the Jefferson Manual -- a book of rules and procedure and parliamentary philosophy by Thomas Jefferson -- which states that the U.S. House of Representatives can investigate actions into impeachment based on a motion of charges transmitted from a state legislature.
Last year, State Rep. David Zuckerman of Burlington sponsored a piece of legislation asking the legislature to formally call upon the U.S. House to open impeachment proceedings. Since it was introduced late in the session, the House leadership did not take up the issue, but Zuckerman plans to re-introduce the legislation in the new biennium. The Vermont State Legislature re-convenes in January 2007.
The crux, organizers explain, will be figuring out how the bill can withstand scrutiny from Washington lawmakers and pass constitutional muster. Zuckerman and co-sponsors of the legislation believe they can find a way.
"When Vermont acted last March, a lot of places around the country were inspired to act," claims Nichols.
"If Vermont were to move at a much more aggressive and intense level," speculates Nichols, "there will be many more communities that will be more organized in a noisier way."
"The attention that was garnered in 2006 was significant. The attention garnered in 2007 could be profound."
Photograph of Dan DeWalt courtesy of Sara Lavigne