On Wednesday Feb. 5th, 2020, Sen. Mitt Romney (R., Ut.) sealed his political fate when he announced he would vote to convict President Trump on the first Article of Impeachment: Abuse of Power. Sen. Romney made a decision guaranteed to draw the unfettered wrath of the President, every Republican in government, and his republican-leaning constituents. In the end, he was the only Senator from either party to break rank in what would become an otherwise entirely partisan vote. He also became the only Senator to ever vote against an impeached President of his own party. The question remains “why”? Let us take a thoughtful look at the reasons behind Romney’s treason.
First, let us examine his curious timing. Sen. Romney announced his decision less than twenty-four hours after a State of the Union Address that still has the President’s base fired up. Trump’s approval ratings are at an all-time high, his highest-profile Democratic opponents each lost momentum in the disastrous Iowa caucus. Nancy Pelosi is so enraged by all of her party’s failures she willingly set herself up for a $40,000 fine for destroying official government documents in the most petty political tantrum in recent memory.
The President is on cloud nine while Mitt Romney is not. Remember, if Romney had not failed in his 2012 Presidential election campaign, and if he had managed to win re-election in 2016, then HE would have been the one to deliver the 2020 SOTU Address instead of President Trump. Additionally, the President delivered the speech a day before the Senate was set to vote on his impeachment – which ‘old guard’ Republicans like Romney would have considered disgraceful. Do not think for a minute that Mitt Romney did not carefully consider the timing of his announcement and the potential effect it would have on Trump’s momentum.
Second, let us look at the effect of losing. To echo a point Sean Hannity made on his radio show earlier this week, the people who lose in these high-profile elections, like Romney did in 2012, seem to lose a piece of themselves as well. Hillary Clinton still maintains that she won the presidency in 2016. The late Sen. John McCain became a perpetual pain in Trump’s side, often voting with senate democrats, before his unfortunate and untimely death. John Kerry ultimately violated the Logan Act. Al Gore went on to invent global warming. Now, Mitt Romney, in the twilight of his political career, seems to feel the gravity of his high-profile loss as well. I believe Romney, who is 72-years-old and not up for re-election until 2024, knows he has likely won his last election and is now considering his legacy.
Unfortunately, his legacy is: “what could have been”? What if Obama had only been a one-term President? Would our country be more peaceful and united today behind the R-squared ticket? What if Trump had nominated Mitt to be his Secretary of State instead of Rex Tillerson? Or instead of Mike Pompeo? Is he, the former Governor, really a worse option than those two? Would the country be a kinder place if the gentle VP Mike Pence could win the Oval Office in 2020 instead of Pres. Trump? Since Trump transformed the party, what role does Romney’s ‘old guard’ of the GOP play in this world anyway? We can only guess what the voices in Romney’s head actually say, but my assumption is the voice of regret screams loudest. Loss and deep-seated regrets skew the decisions of even the strongest men.
Third, let us consider Romney’s faith. Mitt is a devout Mormon. Trump is worldly and sensual. Romney’s BYU education stands in stark contrast to Trump’s WWE Friday Night Smackdowns. Romney has been married to the same woman for 51 years; Trump has been married three times and has often been accused of infidelity. We have all seen the image of Trump waving the rainbow LGBT flag. Yet, it is President Trump and Nancy Pelosi who will speak at the National Prayer breakfast this week and not Sen. Romney. I guarantee Mitt considers Trump to be a blasphemous poser. While each of us Christians hope and pray that our leaders make decisions grounded in faith, Romney’s decision to cast an inconsequential impeachment vote was, at least in part and in his own mind, based on his faith. His decision was certainly not made for political gain.
Please allow me to clarify just a few things. I like Mitt Romney and I do not regret voting for the Romney/Ryan ticket in 2012. Mitt would have been a good President. He would have returned class and grace to the White House, would have stood up for religious freedoms, and would have been staunchly pro-life. Compared to Obama, my vote for Romney was a no-brainer and even now I stand by that decision. Do I agree with his decision on impeachment? Of course not. But I refuse to perpetuate the heightened levels of division and identity politics created by Romney’s 2012 opponent, a socialist swamp rat. So I am not angry with Mitt. I believe him when he says his impeachment decision was extremely difficult. I feel pity for him and it causes me pain to see his star burn out like this.
I wish Mitt Romney well, as he must answer to his constituents and Republican colleagues. I hope his life after politics will bring him peace with his decisions, successes, and failures. Meanwhile, the country is prosperous, the middle class is booming under the current administration, and Romney’s impeachment vote did not matter in the bigger picture. Life is good. I believe four more years of a Trump administration will be just enough time to undo the damage done to our republic in Obama’s final term – the term that should have belonged to Mitt Romney.
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