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It’s time for less politics in Washington

Impeachment fiasco showed our politicians at their worst

President Donald Trump is a politician about whom Americans disagree strongly. Some love him and feel he is correcting problems in our government and society that have gone unaddressed for far too long. Others regard him with something close to – if not outright – hatred. They view him as a leader who has pursued policies and behaviors with which they profoundly disagree.

Falling victim to the negative view of Trump that so many Democrats share, that party’s members in the U.S. House of Representatives sought to oust him from office using the impeachment process. No Republicans in the House agreed that doing so was warranted. They argued that the reasons Democrats gave for pursuing that approach did not justify such an extreme action.

The conclusion of the impeachment trial in the Senate was no surprise. Trump was acquitted. For him to have been convicted and removed from office, 67 senators would have had to have voted that he was both guilty of the charges leveled against him and that those charges warranted cutting his presidency short. For that to have happened many members of both parties would have had to agree that conviction was appropriate.

In the end, there was virtually no shared bipartisan perspective on impeachment. All Democrats in the Senate voted that Trump was guilty and all but one Republican concluded that he was not.

No president should be impeached by the House or convicted by the Senate unless there is substantial bipartisan agreement that such action is necessary. That should only happen if a president’s actions are so wrong that it is unacceptable for him or her to continue to serve. Simply disagreeing with a president’s policies or disliking that individual personally should never be a sufficient reason to impeach. It never should be sufficient for removal from office.

The sad spectacle of this impeachment and trial has worsened the already dysfunctional party divide in Congress. This division over impeachment may make it difficult for some in Congress to find the strength of character to move beyond this unfortunate saga to work collaboratively in the days ahead.

Much of the rhetoric during recent weeks has been very heated. Some of it – both by defenders and opponents of the president – has been intemperate and seriously out of line. It’s time, however, to step back from this dispiriting confrontational partisan fight and for members of both parties to commit themselves to finding common ground. They need to work in harmony to address the nation’s many pressing problems. That will be difficult for some in Congress but to best serve the constituents who elected them it is the right way to proceed.

During recent weeks, many in Congress showed us how just how angry and vindictive they can be. It’s time for them to demonstrate that as true patriots they can work constructively and collaboratively in the public interest. Those of us who elected them should expect nothing less.