"It's amazing how the leaders will follow when the people lead."That's what Liza Earle of Richmond, one of the organizers of the Vermont impeachment movement, said Friday after the Vermont Senate voted 16-9 to call for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney.
Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin, D-Windham, whose political reputation took a beating over the last week, engineered the floor vote and pulled it off in just five minutes.
Sens. Jennette White, D-Windham, and Dick McCormack, D-Windsor, joined Shumlin to put together the wording of Senate Resolution 16, calling for initiation of impeachment proceedings against Bush and Cheney.
With Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie, the presiding officer of the Senate, away on Friday, Shumlin was able to get the resolution quickly voted upon without debate and without having to refer it to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
In one bold stroke, Shumlin was able to bypass House Speaker Gaye Symington, D-Jericho, who refuses to have her chamber take up Joint Resolution 15, the original impeachment measure now stalled in the House Judiciary Committee.
We think the tipping point came on Tuesday, when more than 100 pro-impeachment activists came to the Statehouse. They confronted Shumlin and Symington and reminded them that a majority of the people in Vermont want to see Bush and Cheney removed from office and that the Vermont Legislature could help get the ball rolling.
Shumlin apparently informed Symington after Tuesday's tense confrontation with the pro-impeachment forces that he was going to go ahead with an impeachment vote without her backing.
"We all know there isn't a president who deserves impeachment more than George Bush," Shumlin said Friday. "How many speeches do you need to make the point?"
And that was the argument that the pro-impeachment forces made all along. A vote on an impeachment resolution was not going to be time consuming or take away lawmakers from other business. Shumlin proved that Friday, thanks to a little parliamentary sleight of hand.
Now, a copy of this resolution will be sent to Vermont's congressional delegation. Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernard Sanders and Rep. Peter Welch will be duly notified to initiate impeachment proceedings.
Chances are they won't, but now, the Vermont Senate is on record calling for impeachment. The Vermont House is certainly welcome to join them, and we hope other legislative bodies around the country will join the impeachment parade.
Friday was a proud moment for Vermonters. Once again, the people led and the leaders followed. Once again, we showed the power of democracy and how that power will help put an end the long national nightmare of the Bush presidency.
© 2007 The Brattleboro Reformer