After witnessing countless acts of cowardice these last few years, it was uplifting to see somebody (literally, one person) in the Republican party do the right thing. We take small victories where we can get them. We take inspiration where we find it. No matter how confident you are, we all tend to take our cues from role models, whether it’s standing up to bullies or standing up to presidents. If Mitt can do it, we can now say, maybe I can, too?
It is true that Romney’s fortune insulates him from worries about losing his job. It is also true that he is not up for re-election in 2020. And, of course, he hails from a state that might forgive him. But these things were also true of other Republicans who could not muster the courage to take a stand against Trump’s obvious abuse of power or even to listen as their colleague stood up to take that stand.
“I think the case was made,” he said in a floor speech that his Republican colleagues left the Senate floor to miss, just hours before their votes to inevitably acquit Trump.
“I believe that attempting to corrupt an election to maintain power is about as egregious an assault on the Constitution as can be made,” Romney said, “and for that reason, it is a high crime and misdemeanor, and I have no choice under the oath that I took but to express that conclusion.”
So Romney will vote to convict Trump of abuse of power. And Republicans will try to pretend that this never happened.
“It is what it is,” shrugged Josh Hawlsey.
If they must speak they will say that Romney is vengeful. That he’s angry that he never became president. That he’s angry Trump didn’t make him Secretary of State. It’s hard to judge a person’s motives, but at the risk of sounding naive, I don’t see it. Watching Romney’s speech, it seems like he grappled with the seriousness of the president’s actions. The case he laid out against Trump was logical and factual, not emotional. My guess is that impugning Romney’s motives are simply the only way to dismiss the fact that the last GOP standard bearer just voted to remove the current one.
Romney will now have to grapple with being persona non grata in a party that is full of Trump zombies. Ambitious pols who would have sucked up to him a few years ago will now say they’re disappointed in him.
Trump has redefined our priorities. Back during the primaries of 2008 and 2012, I was one of Romney’s harshest conservative critics, charging him with being insufficiently conservative (remember “RomneyCare”?). Today, he’s perhaps the only Republican in Congress I can respect. That matters more.
Character ultimately reveals itself. You never really know who might be the hero you need, until the time comes. Today, his name is Mitt.