Bill Atkinson: Romney’s vote to convict is the most ‘Drain The Swamp’ move in DC in generations
It does not matter on which side of the political aisle you sit, you have to admire Mitt Romney for demonstrating something that involves real courage in today’s sharply partisan political climate.
In perhaps the most dramatic moment of the whole impeachment process, Romney stood up to political pressure and relied on his moral compass. He voted to convict the president on abuse-of-power charges, the only member of the Senate’s Team Elephant to do so.
That has to take pure guts to rely on your instinct and your beliefs instead of doing so for political gain.
Granted, Romney really has nothing to prove politically anymore. He went to the mountain top in 2012 as the GOP presidential candidate and actually made it a very competitive contest, unlike the 2008 nominee who basically was being served up for the historical significance of that particular election. He is 72-years-old, which still is viable given the slate of presidential choices this year, yet he really seems to have a natural heart for citizen service. Otherwise, he would have chosen to live out his days resting on his laurels and not run for Senate.
But to not bow to the political machine … well, that might be more of a “drain the swamp” move than anything we’ve seen in the past three years. Someone actually came to the Capitol and tried to unplug the business-as-usual political process that has ruled Washington for decades and flows down from the district as swiftly as the waters of the Potomac and Anacostia rivers.
Romney already knows that President Donald Trump does not like him. The president clearly has made no secret of that. When he interviewed Romney four years ago for the position of secretary of state, that was more of a photo-op than a serious job interview.
Romney also knows that the backlash machine kicked into full-speed-ahead once he cast his vote. Utah is probably the most reliably Republican state this side of West Virginia. Trump carried it with ease four years ago and likely will do the same again this year.
That did not matter. In Romney’s mind, the president was guilty. And he said so.
Mitt Romney is by no means a radical. Truth be told, he probably would have made Dwight D. Eisenhower look like a Goth punk-rocker … and history has shown that Ike was about as rebellious as a bowl of vanilla ice cream.
Four of every five votes he has cast in the Senate have been in line with administration policies. It’s not like his decision was the arc of an ongoing swerve against the White House.
The vote most certainly knocks him off many conservative invitation- and Christmas card-lists. Many already are claiming that the only thing red about Romney is the herring he has become to the Republican party.
Romney is not jumping fences. He is not joining the Democratic party. Like the state he represents, he is Republican-born, Republican-bred and when he dies, he’ll be Republican-dead. The seat he holds in the Senate might have had its political temperature turned up several notches, but it is not going to burn him.
He can sleep well at night knowing probably the most significant vote he will ever cast in his Senate career was based on his moral compass pointing North and not whichever way politics pulls it.
Wouldn’t it be great if politics ran more on “guts” instead of “buts?”
Bill Atkinson is interim editor of The Progress-Index in Petersburg, Virginia. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @BAtkinsonpi.