"In the U.S. presently there are only a few places where citizens can act in this fashion and have a say in our nation," said select board member Dan DeWalt, who drafted the impeachment article that was placed on the warning — or official agenda — for the annual town meeting, a proud Yankee tradition in New England.
"It absolutely affects us locally," Dewalt said. "It's our sons and daughters, our mothers and fathers, who are dying" in the war in Iraq.
The article, approved 121-29 in balloting by paper, calls on Vermont's lone member of the House, independent Rep. Bernie Sanders, to file articles of impeachment against the president, alleging that Bush misled the nation about Iraq and engaged in illegal domestic spying.
Other cities nationwide have taken up resolutions calling for Bush's impeachment, notably San Francisco. The sentiment has rarely spread to rural America, but Vermont is known for bucking politics as usual.
At least four other Vermont towns, spurred by publicity about Newfane's resolution, endorsed similar resolutions during Tuesday's meetings: Brookfield, Dummerston, Marlboro and Putney.
In Newfane, the impeachment item came at the end of a roughly four-hour meeting Tuesday morning that was devoted mostly to the local affairs of the town of 1,600.
Among the other items discussed was whether the town should fix some of its 100-year-old sidewalks.
The impeachment discussion took up more than half an hour, reflecting the intense interest in the topic and something of a division over whether the town meeting was the appropriate place to debate it.
Ann Landenberger argued that it was appropriate. "As a teacher I can't say to my kids that what happens on the national level doesn't affect us at the local level," she said. "Would that we could all be in a cocoon, but that is not the case."
Greg Record, a justice of the peace, said after the meeting that the town is made up of people from the "far left," and he criticized the amount of time and attention such advisory votes get.
"We spend more time on these things than on a million-dollar budget item," he complained.
The president did have his supporters during the debate.
Lenore Salzbrun defended Bush, saying she had close friends who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. "I am so grateful that our president didn't just put his head in the sand ... and did go out and fight," she said.
Sanders said in a statement that although the Bush administration "has been a disaster for our country, and a number of actions that he has taken may very well not have been legal," given the reality that the Republicans control the House and the Senate, "it would be impractical to talk about impeachment."
Jim Barnett, chairman of the Vermont Republican Party, said Sanders should reject the resolution: "We should not be impeaching presidents just because we disagree with them."