This was the question on the minds of over 140 people at the North Shore Presbyterian Church on October 13th. The debate did not produce an easy answer, but instead raised difficult questions that reflect the complexity of the current predicament in which we find ourselves.
Dr. Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action Wisconsin, argued for impeachment. His premise was that the nature of our democracy would suffer irretrievable harm because Congress could no longer be considered co-equal with the Executive Branch. In addition, whatever President is or would be in power could manipulate and interfere with free elections, thus always ensuring a victory. He called for a “purer” motivation than a political one – labeling it a constitutional necessity.
On the other side of the argument, Milwaukee County Board Supervisor Dr. Sheldon Wasserman made the case against impeaching the President. His reasons were admittedly political. Although he agreed that the President’s actions rose to the level required to impeach, he noted the dangers of a political backlash. With the Senate unlikely to act based on evidence provided, he felt that the best remedy to the dangers of the current Presidency lies in the upcoming election.
Long-time Wisconsin Public Radio host Kathleen Dunn provided thoughtful questions and helpful history, while Attorney Jeff Perzan explained context and points of law regarding impeachment, and also responded to questions. The audience had many questions, so Q&A lasted about half an hour.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the program was the total and sometimes brutal honesty of the two as they made their arguments. They relied on logic and evidence, but also expressed emotional hopes and fears based on personal experiences and historical examples. Both sides of the debate were well expressed and captured the attention of the listeners, forcing them to think and confront all possibilities. (Well done, Dr. Kraig and Dr. Wasserman!)
This debate was co-sponsored by Citizen Action Wisconsin, Grassroots North Shore, and Grassroots South Shore. A video, graciously taped and created by Daniel Folkman and Charles Bensinger of Wisconsin Video Hub, can be found at WisVideohub.net, or you can go to Event Video