Washington (CNN) Sen. Mitt Romney’s decision to break party ranks and vote to convict President Donald Trump of abusing his power in relation to his dealing with Ukraine was a deeply personal act.
But whether the Utah Republican intended it or not, it was (and is) also a decision with potentially profound consequences for the future of his party.
At the moment, that party is, largely, inseparable from Trump. The hostile takeover of the GOP that Trump conducted during the 2016 campaign is now virtually complete, with Republican members of Congress cheering on the President for fear of what it might cost them politically if they don’t.
There was no better example of that almost-total capitulation to Trump than on Thursday at the White House. The President ranted and raved for more than an hour – casting doubts on the actual religiosity of Romney (and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi), decrying the top brass at the FBI as “top scum” and repeatedly calling his opponents “evil.”
Did any of the GOP luminaries on hand refuse to applaud? Or show any sign they were anything but totally supportive? They did not.
What Romney did in his singular act of defiance was make clear that being a Republican means more than the current cult of personality would have you believe. That his idea of serving in the country – and his party – actually compelled him to speak out against Trump’s actions rather than get in line behind them.
“I acknowledge that my verdict will not remove the President from office, “Romney said in his speech. “My vote will likely be in the minority in the Senate. But irrespective of these things, with my vote, I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty to the best of my ability, believing that my country expected it of me. “
Asked about his vote by a Utah TV station on Thursday, Romney brought up his late father, who served as governor of Michigan and ran unsuccessfully for president.
“The image of my dad comes to mind,” Romney said. “My dad was a person who stood by his word, and did exactly what he thought was right, regardless of the consequence, and that is a family tradition which I hold dear.”
What Romney’s speech – and vote – did is say to his party and the country that an alternative version to Trumpism exists. It may not be popular now. It may be derided by those in power. But it exists. And it’s based not on the politician of the moment or on any politician at all, but rather on the idea that there are principles that transcend any individual.
The Point : Romney may not have meant to start a movement. And he might not start one! But if there is ever going to be a post-Trump GOP, Romney’s actions this week will stand at its core.
(Read More )
GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings