“The president is guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust.”
So said Utah Senator Mitt Romney, explaining why he was voting to remove Donald Trump from office. Romney’s Senate floor speech came on an extraordinary day in our democracy. Following his impeachment trial in the Senate, Donald Trump was adjudged not guilty by the Republican-controlled body, with all but one Republican Senator voting for his acquittal. The lone Republican voting to remove Trump from office - Senator Romney - was lauded for his political courage, hailed as a hero of democracy, and celebrated as an oracle of integrity because he honored his oath to impartially judge the president based on the evidence presented (and not presented) in the Senate impeachment trial.
Romney deserves praise. But what does it say about the Republican party that only one GOP Senator had the basic decency to state the obvious truth? What does it tell you about Republicans that Senator Romney’s decision was huge breaking news?
What did Mitt Romney do? Not much, actually. He honored his oath and told the truth about what Trump did to violate his oath of office and subvert the law. But now Romney faces certain backlash from Republicans for doing so. Indeed, not long after Romney’s powerful and emotional Senate floor speech, Donald Trump, Jr. took to Twitter to declare that Romney is just “forever bitter that he will never be” president. The oily scion said that Romney “was too weak to beat the Democrats then so he’s joining them now. He’s now officially a member of the resistance & should be expelled from the @GOP.” Donald Trump Jr. is certainly an authority on weakness, (have you seen his chin?), but his reaction reflects the ethical weakness of the GOP. That political party is morally bankrupt; its only asset is fealty to a lawless boss using national resources to solicit fake news from a foreign ally, and to prop himself and his party up politically.
In ordinary times, there would be dozens of Mitt Romneys. But today’s Republican Party is just part of Trump’s racketeering enterprise.
Donald Trump was found not guilty. Not guilty does not mean innocent. In this case, it just means that every Republican in the Senate but one aided and abetted Trump’s crimes and cover-up. Mitt Romney honored his oath. The rest of Vichy Republicans in the Senate remain active conspirators in Trump’s ongoing corruption and his assault on the Constitution.
I applaud Senator Romney for his principled stance. But I lament that we live in a country where a Senator who merely does his job - by voting to remove a corrupt leader - is somehow considered a hero.