BOISE — Both Sunrise Ayers and Carrie Fleming attended Tuesday’s impeachment-related demonstrations in part because of their children. They were, however, rallying on two different sides of the issue.
Roughly 200 people in support of the impeachment of President Donald Trump lined downtown Boise’s Front Street, between Capitol Boulevard and Ninth Street, Tuesday evening. Bundled against the frigid weather in the gathering twilight, they held cardboard signs calling for Trump’s impeachment — part of the nationwide “Nobody is Above the Law” demonstrations scheduled in hundreds of communities the day before the House’s historic impeachment vote. Supportive drivers honked in response as rush-hour traffic flowed by.
Across the political aisle and just down Front Street, Fleming stood to show her support of Trump. She mentioned her children when speaking to the Idaho Press before the event. She’s a leader in a local chapter of MAGA Girl — a “Make America Great Again” women’s group that supports Trump and opposes impeachment. Idaho’s chapter of the group is about four months old and about 119 strong, she said.
Fleming is a California transplant who came to Idaho because it is a red state. She wasn’t politically involved prior to Trump’s presidency, she said, in part because she was focused on raising her children and didn’t have an interest in politics. But recently, she’s become concerned about how politics will affect the world her children inherit, saying she became involved “for my children’s future.”
“I felt I needed to get involved for our kids,” Fleming said.
The U.S. House of Representatives planned to vote on articles of impeachment Wednesday, and was expected to break largely along party lines, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. Trump would be only the third president in the nation’s history to be impeached. Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were acquitted after trials in the Senate.
The heaviness of the moment was not lost on Ayers, who has two young boys and attended the pro-impeachment rally. While she feels impeachment is necessary, she said it isn’t something she especially wants to see happen.
“I just thought it was really important to show (my children) when our leaders do something wrong … it’s our duty as Americans to stand up to that,” Ayers told the Idaho Press just before the event.
Fleming found out about the Nobody is Above the Law demonstration about 24 hours before it took place, she said. Because of that, she didn’t have much time to plan a counter-rally; a smaller crowd of about a dozen MAGA Girl supporters stood on Front Street Tuesday night, waving American flags alongside Trump 2020 campaign flags.
Fleming said she’s worried about changes made in schools across the country, where, she said, sex education has changed drastically in recent years, and she’s concerned about the influence of socialism in America. Trump made campaign promises and kept them, she said, and she believes Democrats have long been looking for an excuse to impeach him. Fleming said the impeachment proceedings — focused on a July phone call Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which, it is alleged, Trump appeared to have leveraged military aid and a White House visit in exchange for an investigation of his political rival — feel like a reach to her.
“The silent majority voted him in, and it feels like ever since, the left has done nothing but try to bring him down,” she said.
Many of those attending the rallies were older, but younger generations were represented as well.
Devin McComas, 30, of Boise, has been interested in politics since before he could vote. He held a cardboard sign urging U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, to “grow a spine” and vote for impeachment. For McComas, impeachment is necessary because he believes Trump has “categorically denied election interference in the past” in American elections. McComas is concerned the president will continue to do so.
Across the street — but still among those supporting impeachment — Robert Lambrou of Boise said he didn’t have time to make a sign. So he grabbed an American flag instead. He’s no stranger to protesting — prior to his being drafted in 1970, he protested the Vietnam War in Washington, D.C., he said — but he feels it continues to be an important thing for American citizens to do.
“Unless citizens are willing to stand up for the country, they don’t deserve it,” Lambrou said.
Despite the occasional chants and the boisterous, continuing honking of passing cars, both demonstrations remained peaceful Tuesday night. Both sides said that was the goal.
Fleming and Ayers, speaking to the Idaho Press before the events, said they hoped the country could find some common ground soon.
Ayers said people want to see Trump receive a fair impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate.
“I do think, deep down, as much as we are sort of politically divided, all of us do care about fundamental fairness,” she said. “There is more that unites us across political parties.”
Although Fleming doesn’t agree impeachment is the right move for the country, she said she wants to see more collaboration in politics.
“What I would like to see is for us to come together, the left and the right,” she said.
The national push for the ”Nobody is Above the Law” demonstrations came from a collection of organizations, such as Public Citizen and Need to Impeach, through MoveOn.org. Boise’s demonstration was one of more than 600 nationwide, according to the website.
The organizer of the counter-rally, the Idaho chapter of MAGA Girl, is about four months old, Fleming said. She estimates the group has about 119 members.