I'm going to be posting a series of the articles I've written for school. Some are on topics that I wasn't even the least bit interested in but perhaps some one out there is. This first one was published as the lead story in a local alternative weekly.
“Impeach.” This word is written in bold, white letters on a sign that sits in front of a house on Crawford Street. The sign, with its blood-red background, has been appearing on lawns throughout Syracuse. The target is President Bush and the message is clear.
“I think the man is completely incompetent,” said Kate O’Hara-Matthews, resident of the house that sits just off of Meadowbrook Road. O’Hara-Matthews said that she and her husband decided to put up the sign because they wanted to get people to think about the situation in Iraq and the president’s culpability therein. “If you don’t have a son or a family member that has come back in a body bag it doesn’t really affect you,” O’Hara-Matthews said of the war.
The sign’s message is more about showing a disdain for the Bush administration’s policies than about actually pursuing impeachment proceedings. “It makes us feel better” she said of the desire to do something in response to a war she believes is completely unjust.
Miranda Hine shares O’Hara-Matthew’s views. The two are friends and Hine had some initial reservations about what the neighbors might think of her sign. When Hine saw that O’Hara-Matthew’s had put the sign on her lawn, the boldness inspired her, “damn it, that’s what this country’s about, I’m going to put it out,” said the elementary school teacher.
“I wanted to voice my sadness about what is going on in the world today as a result of his policies,” Hine said.
Hine, a duel British and American citizen, fears that the standing of the United States has suffered as a result of the administration’s policies. “I think we’re acting like bullies” she said of the U.S. agenda. Hine believes that the United States has been selective in its approach to “giving freedom,” by attacking Iraq and remaining largely inactive while areas of Africa suffer through genocide.
Katie O’Royrke’s sign formerly resided on the front lawn of her house. The sign was stolen from her yard on the corner of Euclid and Livingston. O’Royrke said she bought the sign last Sunday afternoon and by Thursday evening it was gone.
O’Royrke says she doesn’t expect the movement to impeach Bush to actually produce any tangible results but put the sign up as a statement of her feelings on the administration.
Jessica Maxwell thinks the sign can be more than just a statement. Maxwell, a staff member of Syracuse’s Peace Council, is hopeful that this year’s mid-term elections can swing the balance of power in congress. Maxwell feels that if the U.S. continues to suffer military losses in Iraq people are going to become more disillusioned with the administration. Maxwell said that the signs “create a sense of being part of the campaign against Bush and Cheney.” The first step toward getting involved in the larger movement toward impeachment she said.
The Peace Council is where both O’Hara-Matthews and Hine initially acquired their signs. The signs have been moving surprisingly fast according to Maxwell who said they recently made their third order of the signs from the Syracuse Cultural Workers, the organization that produces them.
Karen Kerney, SCW’s art director, said the idea for the signs began as a response to the lawn signs politicians often give out in the run up to elections. “Stop The War In Iraq” was one of the SCW's first lawn signs and it drew quite a response. Kerney said that the Iraq sign made people interested in other potential signs. “Getting past that place of saying what you believe” was an important first step toward emboldening people to be willing to put the “Impeach” sign on their lawn, said Kerney.
The SCW’s publisher, Dik Cool, is a strong advocate of the movement to impeach President Bush. While he is not convinced of the viability of such a campaign he does cite the fact that “50 or 60 congress people have signed a petition to support an inquiry into impeachment.” In fact, there was a bill co-sponsored by 32 Democrats in the House to create a select committee to investigate whether there's enough evidence to impeach President Bush according to the March 24, edition of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. While not 50 or 60, the 32 members represent more than ten percent of the Democrats in the House.
The local sentiment to impeach President Bush is reflective of a greater national sentiment both at the grassroots level and in more established political channels. In September of 2005, the Santa Cruz City Council passed a resolution calling on the House Judiciary Committee to investigate whether President Bush could be impeached for his actions leading up to the war in Iraq. Since then, dozens of other city councils have followed suite culminating with Russ Feingold, the Democratic, junior senator from Wisconsin, introducing a resolution to censure President Bush in March of this year, according to the March 31, edition of the Columbus Dispatch.
The movement to impeach Bush is not limited to left-leaning, private and public citizens. In August of 2006, Pat Buchanan, two-time Republican presidential hopeful and co-founding editor of “The American Conservative,” called for a “courageous Republican” to introduce a bill to impeach the president “charging George W. Bush with a conscious refusal to uphold his oath and defend the states of the Union against "invasion" [of illegal aliens].”
In an article later that month, Joseph Farah, founder, editor and CEO, of World Net Daily, a conservative online news site, echoed Buchanan’s sentiment. In an email exchange with him earlier this week, Farah reiterated his call for Bush’s impeachment saying that “Americans are losing faith in the system of political accountability.” Farah said that there was not any real viability to the impeachment movement on the issue of illegal aliens but did say that the impeachment would “be extremely healthy [for the U.S. government]. Congress needs to reassert its rightful authority under the constitution.”
The movement in Syracuse to impeach President Bush has caused people to both put up and take down the controversial “Impeach” signs. The movement is gaining traction in the area as well as continuing to raise its profile nationally. The red sign with white lettering represents what Hine called, “a feeling of frustration,” that many Syracusans are no longer willing to let go unvoiced.