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U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Nov. 20.

As Buffalo Springfield stated: “There’s battle lines being drawn. Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong.”

That pretty much sums up our stance on the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. One side views the president’s infractions as obvious as declaring the sun rises in the east, while the other side sees it as one big nothingburger with a side order of envy. We seem to live in a world where facts are subjective and our opinions objective.

In this world, Coke is Pepsi, the Hatfields are the McCoys and Boston loves the New York Yankees.

Several decades ago, I attended a political event at an elementary school. During the Q&A, a young student quickly pointed out that his issues had been ignored during the candidate’s monologue — specifically, school lunch and recess.

Impeachment, void of a widely agreed upon “smoking gun,” does not fall into school lunch or recess categories. With the exception of a select few, impeachment is viewed as part of the Washington nomenclature that has little bearing on our daily lives. I recently posted an article on Facebook in which Fox News legal analyst and former New Jersey Superior Court Judge Andrew Napolitano was making the case for Republicans to consider the impeachment of Donald Trump. One individual responded by suggesting, “Napolitano is not and never was a republican.”

The aforementioned response may be true, but does it eliminate the validity of Napolitano’s analysis? It does, if we’re only concerned with school lunch and recess.

According to recent polling conducted by Fivethirtyeight, 46.3% support impeachment, while 45.6% oppose it. It breaks down further as 80.3% of Democrats support impeachment, compared to 41% of Independents, and 12% of Republicans.

Marred by paradox, support for impeachment stops largely at the water’s edge of orthodoxy. In other words, would supporters of impeachment feel similar if the malefactor’s politics aligned with theirs? Conversely, a similar question would apply those opposed to impeachment.

How one comes to understand the facts presented is a matter for subjectivity, but impeachment inquiry, as a process, should have near unanimous support among those who do not wish this to be an ongoing standard for the executive branch.

Perhaps the best thing to come out of the impeachment inquiry may be that opposing sides have neatly provided the future talking points for the next impeachment inquiry, whenever it may occur.

The evidence suggests the president held up an appropriation issued by the legislative branch for a quid pro quo of which he was to be the personal beneficiary. Unless this is a standard that is to be extended to every future president, regardless of party, it needs to be investigated.

In the history of the republic, there have only been five occasions where the individuals receiving fewer popular votes won the presidency. Of those five, only George W. Bush (2004) was reelected. The history, coupled with the president’s inability or unwillingness to expand his base, suggests Democrats potentially have more to lose politically in the impeachment process.

European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland said in his opening statement, under oath, that in addition to the president, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton were also involved. Adding “everybody was in on it” affirmed there was definitely a quid pro quo that benefited the president’s personal political fortunes.

This seems less like a cover up in the Watergate tradition and more like an approach to governing that is antithetical to the previous 43 men who have headed the executive branch of government. But ignorance legally or politically is not a viable defense.

In the unlikely event the president is convicted in the Senate, he would have no one other than himself to blame.

For those who may have been deprived of Schoolhouse Rock on Saturday mornings, consider the following:

Those who suggest the president is being denied due process are right; but the president is not entitled to due process unless the matter reaches the Senate. Impeachment is political, not legal. This is why then-House Minority Leader Gerald Ford famously stated back in 1970, “An impeachable offense is whatever a majority in the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.”

Ford is correct, because Article I of the Constitution gives the House the sole power of impeachment.

Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, in spite of the attacks levied by those in support of the president, has run the impeachment inquiry based on policies instituted by Republican House Speaker John Boehner in 2015.

And this brings us back to the Buffalo Springfield observation. I suspect we could always place the blame where it truly belongs … James Madison.

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The Rev. Byron Williams (byron@publicmorality.org), a writer and the host of “The Public Morality” on WSNC 90.5, lives in Winston-Salem.

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