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The Tri-Star State: In Tennessee, Impeachment Procedures Might Not Change How People Approach 2020 E

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On a recent chilly afternoon last week at Nashville’s Centennial Park, Sean Michel was walking his dog with a friend.

This was also the first day of impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump. Michel didn’t hesitate to share his thoughts on impeachment.

“I just think the sides are stupid. Republicans are stupid. Democrats are stupid,” Michel said. “We are all stupid and it’s just pointless in my opinion.”

Michel, who is visiting Nashville from Little Rock, Ark., said he doesn’t vote, because he doesn’t believe in most things politicians say. So, regardless of the result of the current impeachment procedures, he won’t vote in 2020. It will also not restore his faith in government.

“I mean restore my faith in who? Like, who else are you going to send me to want to vote for?” Michel asked. “There’s no one on the Dem side. There’s no one on the Republican side.”

Michel called the procedures and the latest events “childish.” But, not everybody thinks like him. In fact, only one in four people have not made up their minds whether President Trump should be impeached. That’s according to a recent nation-wide poll made by University of Southern California and the Los Angeles Times.

It also found 44% of Americans believe the House of Representatives should impeach. Josephine Johnson, an independent musician from Nashville, is one of them. She was for impeachment even before the hearings started.

“I mean, I feel like it’s already been proven. It’s the formality and the due process that comes now,” Johnson said. “I intentionally I didn’t watch much of it today because I didn’t want to be frustrated, to be honest with you.”

When asked about what she meant about the case “been proven,” Johnson doubled down.

“We’ve gone from quid pro quo to bribery,” Johnson said. “I mean, it’s a really serious thing what he’s been accused of.”

However, there is some friction among those who oppose President Trump. Not all them are on board with impeachment.

Such is the case with 21-year old Zylan Smith, a student at Tennessee State University. He said Trump is only one piece of what he considers a problematic administration.

“Just because the head is not there doesn’t mean that the plan won’t continue to carry out,” Smith said. “If you think of it, it’s kind of like a snake. Chopping the head off the snake is the only way to kill it, but it’s still going to move around.”

Instead, Smith said, people should turn their focus toward something else: the 2020 elections.

“Some of the effort that we put into trying to get him impeach … that should be effort that we should put into seeing these candidates, who is really looking out for us, who should we be trying to endorse … so we can get him out,” Smith said.

He said impeachment won’t necessary move the needle, what will is people getting out and voting.

Three more days of impeachment hearings are scheduled for this week.

Reporter Meribah Knight contributed to this report.

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán is Nashville Public Radio’s political reporter. Prior to moving to Nashville, Sergio covered education for the Standard-Examiner newspaper in Ogden, Utah. He is a Puerto Rico native and his work has also appeared on NPR station WKAR, San Antonio Express-News, Inter News Service, GFR Media and WMIZ 1270 AM.