In 2012, I was all in for Mitt Romney as our president. I voted for him in the primary and in the general election, because I thought he was a moderate politician that shared my core political positions with a moral character that would actually care about finding common ground between those that identify with progressive and conservatives ideologies. He found a way to get elected Governor of Massachusetts as a Republican and created a universal healthcare program for Massachusetts, which had many similarities to the ACA put into law by Obama a few years later.
But, as we all know, he lost to a very popular and likable incumbent president. If you look back at what some of the major criticisms of him were and compare that to the legal accusations toward Trump and his thousands of divisive, childish, and incoherent tweets, it’s laughable. Romney’s biggest gaffes or strikes against him were that he was (gasp!) Morman, and he sounded like an elitist for a comment he made about “the other half” to a bunch of rich, potential donors. We all know how uncommon that is for politicians to pander to rich people in exchange for their financial support.
On February 5th, 2020, Mitt Romney etched himself into history in a way that will solidify the dignity, integrity, and wisdom he possesses. He voted to convict President Trump for abuse of power under Article 1 of the impeachment articles. Romney was the only Republican senator to vote for this conviction. He did what every senate juror was asked to do. Vote based on his or her personal convictions given the information and evidence put before him or her. The vote shouldn’t have anything to do with the senator’s party affiliation. But clearly, no one else felt compelled to follow their oath before God, as the rest of the votes were strictly partisan.
Americans, this is the politician you’ve been looking for. This is the person you’ve been saying doesn’t exist anymore. In a hyper-partisan political climate, one where an entire party has turned their back on the 24/7 abusive behavior and rhetoric from this president, Romney did what no one else thought existed anymore. He treated his impeachment vote like we should treat our own votes for politicians. Instead of looking for the R or D next to the name of a candidate, we should be researching the issues, challenging ourselves on what we believe, and choosing a candidate that best represents our personal convictions and life circumstances.
But instead, we’ve let partisan political commentators, 24/7 cable news, and social media memes shape our opinions about the Republican and Democratic parties. If you’re a Republican, you think the Democrats are trying to institute Sharia Law and completely obliterate capitalism. If you’re a Democrat, you think all Republicans are racist, bigoted, and don’t care about the poor and sick. But in reality, the majority of us are regular people who want representatives that actually go to work representing us, not themselves.
When Romney participated in this trial as a juror, based on what was presented to him, he came to this conclusion, regardless of the letter next to his name:
“The president asked a foreign government to investigate his political rival. The president withheld vital military funds from that government to press it to do so. The president delayed funds for an American ally at war with Russian invaders. The president’s purpose was personal and political. Accordingly, the president is guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust.
What he did was not perfect. No, it was a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security and our fundamental values. Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine.”
Romney figuratively drops the mic about 10 times in his post-conviction vote speech on Wednesday. It’s so good, even if you hated what he did, you’ll see that he’s being sincere and he clearly understands the gravity of what he just did. It’s amazing what he did, and I am still stunned that there’s actually a politician out there willing to stick their neck out this far, because of their deep spiritual and personal convictions. No one can argue that Romney had selfish motives to do this. He is being excoriated by the GOP right now. Just minutes after news broke of Romney’s vote, Don Trump Jr. had a hashtag going viral on Twitter, #ExpelMitt, in reference to expelling Romney from the Republican party. Yes, Utah has been anti-Trump since 2016. It’s the only red state in the union where the majority of the Republicans don’t support Trump. But, this doesn’t give Romney any political advantage in Utah. They already love him. He wasn’t in any danger of losing his senate seat. It may make him even more popular in Utah, but it definitely isn’t in Alabama, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
He acknowledges this in his speech as well:
I’m aware that there are people in my party and in my state who will strenuously disapprove of my decision, and in some quarters I will be vehemently denounced. I’m sure to hear abuse from the president and his supporters. Does anyone seriously believe that I would consent to these consequences other than from an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me?
::mic drop again::
Of course, you don’t have to be a genius to predict that this president would abusively lash out at Mitt right away.
The GOP will continue to denounce Romney and call him Benedict Arnold. But, he didn’t want it to come to this. Many people thought Romney was pushing for John Bolton to testify to reveal something against Trump, but as he reveals in an article with The Atlantic, it was the opposite:
Romney confessed that he’d spent much of the impeachment trial hoping a way out would present itself: “I did not want to get here.” In fact, that was part of the reason he wanted former National Security Adviser John Bolton to testify about what Trump had told him. “I had the hope that he would be able to say something exculpatory and create reasonable doubt, so I wouldn’t have to vote to convict,” Romney said.
Today, I sit here reading comments from people on Facebook thinking I’m a Democrat, because I posted that I was proud of what Romney did. Why is it that I can’t identify with conservative values if I don’t support Trump?
As a conservative who voted third party in 2016 (I couldn’t get myself to vote for Trump or Hillary), Romney in 2012, McCain in 2008, and Bush in 2004 and 2000, I found myself feeling like I didn’t fit anywhere in politics anymore. As the Democratic party moves closer to the democratic socialist policies of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and the Republican party continues to justify Trump’s words and actions for the good of the party, I thought I had no one left to identify with politically. Someone on Facebook said to me the other day, “Hi Erik, you seem like a Republican/Conservative, but you don’t support Trump. I didn’t know people like you existed anymore”. It’s true. I scroll through my social media feeds and see people that I grew up with supporting him despite his bullying, name-calling, bigotry, and hard-line policies such as separating children from their families at the border.
I love our free market economy. I still believe our Constitution is a living, breathing document that should be defended and upheld as relevant to today’s issues. I believe unborn children have individual rights, too. I want a limited federal government and strong state’s rights. And Mitt Romney showed me on Wednesday that I’m not alone. People like him hold those values, but don’t support Trump and think his ongoing behavior and rhetoric isn’t acceptable to be our president.
Many of you who support Trump are probably saying to yourself right now, “Are you kidding me? He’s a traitor. What he did was pointless, it meant nothing. This whole impeachment was a waste of time. In the end, he was still acquitted.” I submit to you that because Romney did what he did, it was worth it. Trump not getting the unanimous acquittal means something, and that’s why it angered Trump so much. One person standing up for what they believed and not caving to peer pressure will mean something to younger generations.
I’ll leave you with Romney’s closing remarks, because it sums up everything I just said perfectly:
I will only be one name among many, no more, no less, to future generations of Americans who look at the record of this trial. They will note merely that I was among the senators who determined that what the president did was wrong, grievously wrong. We are all footnotes at best in the annals of history, but in the most powerful nation on Earth, the nation conceived in liberty and justice, that distinction is enough for any citizen.