This guest post was submitted by Fargo-area attorney Mark Western.
The impeachment trial of President Trump is now over. It is a part of history. The President has been acquitted on both counts. There will be collateral damages, both in terms of the body politic as well as public trust in their institutions.
Now the long knives, rhetorically speaking, are out for Senator Romney and his decision to convict the President on one of two counts in the Impeachment trial. How shameful. That Senator Romney ends up being labeled the bad actor, in the end, is stupefying.
Some have said that he should be “expelled from the Republican Conference.” (Donald Trump, Jr.) Others have said that Romney decided to vote to convict because he was a “sore loser” and because he was “weak.” (Reps. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.)). The President’s reactions to Senator Romney’s vote were predictable.
Rubbish. Hogwash. Nonsense.
We can only expect that the shrill noises and foul words careening around the Twitterverse about Senator Romney will multiply many-fold over the coming days and weeks.
Senator Romney may be the only person in the entire United States Senate who made his decision without concern for himself or his political party. That’s courageous. He is not worthy of scorn; he should be admired.
Here’s a mid-twentieth century take on politics in America. It’s pretty wordy, but it speaks quite clearly to today.
“With exceptions so rare that they are regarded as miracles and freaks of nature, successful democratic politicians are insecure and intimidated men. They advance politically only as they placate, appease, bribe, seduce, bamboozle, or otherwise manage to manipulate the demanding and threatening elements in their constituencies. The decisive consideration is not whether the proposition is good but whether it is popular—not whether it will work well and prove itself but whether the active talking constituents like it immediately.”
Walter Lippmann, The Public Philosophy, 1955.
About the same time, Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts wrote the book “Profiles in Courage” to spotlight the actions of eight members of the United States Senate who rose above the fray who risked the censure of their colleagues by taking positions that were unpopular (often extremely unpopular) but ultimately viewed more favorably by the judgment of history. The Kennedy family has given a “Profile In Courage” award annually since 1990. In an ironic twist, one of the recipients was Gerald Ford, for his pardon of President Nixon after Watergate. Senator Edward Kennedy raked President Ford over the coals mercilessly for the pardon, but history has judged President Ford more kindly.
I think that Senator Romney made his decision to vote guilty based on his convictions, his view of the evidence (!) presented at trial, and ultimately the long view of history will take notice of an exceptional person. A person who was not afraid to risk the censure and condemnation of his party, his Senate colleagues, and his President. Often, that type of person is referred to as a statesman, but usually not until after they are dead. Senator Romney deserves far better than the name-calling and epithets hurled his way.
There is a reason that “Profiles In Courage” was such a short book. Think about it.