The Democrats I talked with who flocked to Capitol Hill to see the hearings in person weren’t there to witness the buildup to the eventual removal of a president. They were there, they told me, to offer a show of support for the democratic process. “If impeachment succeeds or fails [to remove the president], just getting into this line and saying ‘What happened is not right,’ it makes sense to me,” said Raj Nath, a Best Buy salesman who lives in Reston, Virginia. Melanie Robertson, an architect who traveled from Piedmont, California, just to see the hearings in person, called her trip “a recon mission to save democracy.”
Others were optimistic that the mere fact that the hearings were being conducted is evidence that American democracy is, at least in this arena, functioning as it should. “Getting to see the evidence laid out right now makes me feel a little bit better about my country,” 58-year-old Bill Condell told me while he waited in line to see Sondland’s testimony on Wednesday. “This is a civics lesson that only comes around every few generations,” said Liz Marshall, a resident of Takoma Park, Maryland, who stood in line with her teenage son. “It is an example of checks and balances, an example of democracy working.”
Many of the hearing attendees also told me they were reassured by the veteran public officials who testified—people like Taylor and former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. “The public ought to see the professionalism of these longtime State Department employees,” said Carla Kurfess, a retired teacher from Annapolis, Maryland.