Hannah Van Otterloo — Staff Writer
On Wednesday, February 5, the impeachment trial ended as the Senate voted to acquit President Donald Trump. A week before the trial concluded, however, four Dordt students had the opportunity to sit in on the trial along with President Hoekstra and Dr. Barb Hoekstra.
Nicolas Kuperus, Rachel Heynen, Kendal Zylstra, and Emily Zylstra were in Washington, D.C. while attending the National Association of Evangelicals’ Christian Student Leadership Conference. While there, the students were able to hear from senators, representatives, congressional staff members, and organizational leaders, as well as visit the Supreme Court, tour the Capitol, and explore Washington D.C.
On Thursday, January 30, they also had the opportunity to sit in on the impeachment trial proceedings in the Senate. President Hoekstra’s administrative assistant, Mrs. LeeAnn Moerman, was able to secure staff passes for the group from Senator Ernst and Senator Grassley’s offices.
“We got up into the Senate gallery, which are seats that sit right above the Senate floor. So, from that position, you can see all 100 senators seated right in front of you,” Zylstra said.
“I think overall, one word that comes to mind is historic,” Kuperus said. “This is only the third time a sitting president has been impeached in the 200-plus-year history of the U.S.,”
“As to the gravity of the event, I was struck with gratefulness that our country does operate with a respect for process,” Hoekstra said. “I thought Justice Roberts was the epitome of how a Supreme Court Justice should carry the role.”
After their forty-five minute experience, they all reached similar conclusions.
“One thing I realized is regardless of which political position, you see how partisan things are. You don’t see a lot of Democrats walking across the aisle to talk to Republicans, or the Republicans walking across the aisle to talk to Democrats about something… I think that no matter whether you’re for the impeachment or against it… you have to acknowledge the fact that partisan politics plays a major role in what happens,” Zylstra said.
Kuperus agreed. “For all of the history and significance, it also highlighted how divided our country is,” he said. “Regardless of your position on to convict or not to convict, here we were in the Chamber of the Senate discerning whether or not to convict the President rather than working on legislation and positive change that will bring the two parties together and help Americans across the country. In a way, the whole thing seemed to be an exercise of futility because, with the exception of Mitt Romney, we knew that the vote was going to go straight along party lines… So regardless of the merits of the claims of either the house managers or the defense team, it seemed that a conclusion had already been made in the minds of many of the Senators.”
While observations like these don’t inspire much hope for collaboration in our current government, President Hoekstra helps put it into perspective.
“While I’m saddened to see our government leaders spending such time and energy on a matter like this, overall I walked away with a confidence and appreciation for our three branches as well as for our bicameral legislative branch. Seriously, the framers of our republic were truly genius in the shape of our system of government.
“Now, I pray that we’ll get more dedicated servant leaders (ideally with Christian hearts and minds) to be in those roles in D.C.—both in the elected seats and in the staff positions—to really maximize the potential of our national government into the future.”