The Washington Post headlined an Oct. 11 story: “The partisan divide keeps growing,” suggesting that Americans on either side of the political spectrum have dug their collective heels and becoming less willing to budge and quicker to cast aspersions.

“For years, Pew Research Center has been measuring the gulf between the parties,” the article stated. “There has always been one, of course; the entire point of having political parties is that there are shared differences between groups of voters. But in recent years … that divide has seemingly widened, and tensions between the parties have grown more acrimonious.

“Three years ago, Pew Research Center found that the 2016 presidential campaign was ‘unfolding against a backdrop of intense partisan division and animosity,’” the article continues, citing the Pew report released earlier this month. “Today, the level of division and animosity, including negative sentiments among partisans toward members of the opposing party, has only deepened.”

Locally, voters feel that measure. Even more so since public testimony regarding the impeachment of President Donald Trump began in Washington D.C.

In the latest installment of the ongoing “Pulse of the Voters” series, The Huntsville Item listened to local voters as they talked politics, impeachment and the upcoming 2020 election.

Huntsville resident Alvin “Al” Hooten, a conservative Republican who recently retired as the vice president for finance at Sam Houston State, goes as far to call the impeachment probe “pure politics.”

“There’s no substance to it. Yes, Trump sticks his foot in his mouth quite often with his tweets, but when you look at the history of the United States, our government has interfered in politics with many elections in other countries,” he said.

Majority leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives are claiming that Trump sought political favors from Ukraine and used military aid as a bargaining chip.

Hooten, like many of the 64 percent of Walker County residents who voted for the president in 2016, feel that the impeachment will “blow up in the Democrats’ face.”

“I think the American people see right through it,” Hooten added. “You have one person (Adam Schiff, D-California). They are just trying to make Trump look as bad as they can, because they really don’t have a candidate.

However, the political divide that is seen throughout the country exists in Walker County.

“In my opinion, the impeachment is certainly justified. I’m not an attorney, but I hear the words that come out of his mouth and it just makes me shake my head,” said retired banker and Huntsville resident Frank O’Donnell. “Unless something drastic happens, the House will vote to impeach Trump and he will be acquitted in the Senate.

Roberto Alejandro Martinez, a criminal justice major at Sam Houston State University agreed with O’Donnell.

“I think the probe is justified and it is long overdue,” he said. “Our country has become a laughingstock … the impeachment is highly necessary, but I do not think anything will come from it.”

Issues to focus on

Since the impeachment process has begun, local Congressman Kevin Brady (R-Texas 8th) has been vocal in saying that “we’re wasting time on this sham impeachment.” He asserts that Congress should focus on lowering drug prices, securing the southern border and passing the United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement.

Many Republicans in the area agree.

“It’s sad, because nothing that needs to be done is being done,” Hooten said. “The cost of drugs is out of control, Canada-Mexico trade deal is just sitting there. We the American people are being hurt by this impeachment process that won’t go anywhere.”

Hooten believes that health care cost should be the main focus of Congress.

“The cost of prescription drugs have gotten out of hand … people can go to Canada and buy drugs at 10% of the cost and that’s wrong,” he said.

Democratic leaders are taking a different with health care, as some are proposing a Medicare for All package. If approved, the act would provide comprehensive healthcare to every man, woman and child in America without out-of-pocket expenses.

“In my opinion, healthcare is a right, not a privilege,” O’Donnell said. “We need to do it almost regardless of what it costs. One of (President Barack) Obama’s great credits was the Affordable Healthcare Act, and naturally because it was Obama that pushed for it Republicans are instinctively opposed to it. All the care I get now, should be available to the poorest guy down in the 3rd Ward of Houston.”

Republicans claim that this plan is “dangerous” and “could bankrupt the country.”

“The worst part about Medicare for All is that it would have the government controlling your medical … just look at what they have done with the VA,” Hooten replied. “Those poor soldiers that have an injury from serving our country have to wait months for treatment. If we had Medicare for All how long would we have to wait for medical treatment and then how do we pay for it?”

Hooten suggested that Congress should allow for an expansion of private insurance and crack down on healthcare costs.

“Usually when you want to buy something you go online and find prices, but for some reason you can’t do that with medical procedures,” he said. “There has to be some way to get the prices out there so the consumer can make a valid decision. Congress doesn’t want to address it because all the pharmaceuticals are financing their campaigns. If you look at what happens to the elderly, almost all that go bankrupt is because of medical.”

The Primary Election will be held March 3, 2020 throughout Texas, with the General Election on Nov. 3.