Record editorial: With courageous and principled vote, Romney put country over party
It’s a rare thing these days, political courage.
On Wednesday, Utahns — and folks across the country — were fortunate enough to witness some, as Sen. Mitt Romney took a stand on principle and against intense pressure from his party and voted to remove President Trump from office for abuse of power.
He was the lone senator from the GOP to do so, despite overwhelming evidence of the president’s guilt, underscoring both the risk Romney took by breaking ranks on such a crucial matter and the scarcity of national Republican politicians who are willing to stand up for the truth. His actions presented quite a contrast to the approach of Utah’s other senator, Mike Lee, who was determined before any evidence had even been presented at the trial to clear Trump and who was all too eager to take the easy way out.
Those who question Romney’s motives need only consider the browbeating he knew was sure to follow. Indeed, the criticism from the right has been sharp and swift, particularly from the folks for which unyielding support for Trump has become a litmus test for conservative purity. He has spent the last few days enduring attacks from the president, the president’s supporters, prominent GOP officials in Utah and many of his constituents.
The onslaught is unlikely to cease anytime soon, and some have even suggested his vote could cost him reelection in four years should he decide to run again.
It would have been far less troublesome to vote to acquit on both charges, perhaps voice support for issuing Trump a less severe consequence like a censure and move on from the ordeal with his standing in the party intact. That was the path many of his colleagues chose, and it likely had a certain amount of appeal to Romney, too, particularly because he knew his vote would not change the outcome of the trial.
To Romney, however, the prospect of weathering the vitriol was easier to stomach than the thought of being judged a fraud by his own conscience and a coward by the history books. So he acted on principle and did something that, while opening himself to attack from the right, earned him the gratitude of a great many Americans who believe doing what is right is more important than doing what is easy.
Near the end of a speech on the Senate floor explaining to his colleagues and to the American people why he cast the vote, Romney gave perhaps the most powerful justification he could offer.
“I will tell my children and their children,” he said, “that I did my duty to the best of my ability, believing that my country expected it of me.”
It did. And he did.
In an era that calls for all Americans to view their allegiance to the Constitution as more sacred than their affiliation with a political party and affirm that America is bigger than any one man or any one president, that was enough.
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Our view: In putting their differences aside and agreeing to share a message of unity and democracy, Spencer Cox and Chris Peterson rose above the mudslinging that has come lately to define our politics.