A great deal of fuss is being made over Mitt Romney these days. Sadly, I’m not surprised.

Romney made exclamation-point-worthy headlines by being the only Republican senator to vote in favor of the House of Representative’s articles of impeachment.

Senator Romney was once considered a fine enough Republican to earn his party’s nomination to run against incumbent president Barack Obama in 2012. This week, to read the news feeds, he’s a traitor.

After the Senate vote that acquitted the president, Donald Trump, Jr., tweeted that Senator Romney “is officially a member of the resistance,” and “should be expelled” from the Republican party. Others have been no less critical. One Fox News commentator said Romney displayed himself to be an arrogant member of the elite class unable to cope with the success of a common man like our president.

Personally, I have an opinion on whether the president should have been impeached, and so do you. We may or may not agree.

That’s fine.

That’s why they call it democracy. Informed citizens conscientiously consider both sides of an argument, draw their best conclusions, and move forward.

And in the two counts of impeachment, first approved by the House and then voted on in the Senate, I can absolutely see how some Democrats might in good conscience have decided, “meh, there’s just not enough here to move forward.” (And two of them did.)

I can also see how some Republican senators might in good conscience say, “you know, this doesn’t feel right to me. I’m gonna vote to impeach.” (And Romney did.)

But that’s the way it works, you vote your conscience, and your conscience might cause you to disagree with what the rest of the group thinks.

It’s one of America’s messy truths that we like to make a big fuss about past heroes like Rosa Parks and Abraham Lincoln who had the moral courage to stand up for what they thought was right regardless of popular opinion, and yet in the present we just surrender meekly to the mentality of the herd.

Or, to put it another way, we make a decision about what team we want to join, and then we just sit back and let them do all our future thinking for us.

But Sen. Romney, along with two Democratic congressmen bucked that trend, and now all of them are taking heavy incoming.

Nevertheless, Mitt knew what was coming. In his statement before casting his vote, he said, “I am sure to hear abuse from the president and his supporters. Does anyone seriously believe I would consent to these consequences other than an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me?”

Lofty words, those. The kind of words we’re used to hearing in America...from our textbooks. But here in the 2020’s? Not so much.

But wait, there’s more. Turns out — I’m not making this up — last Friday Utah state representative Phil Layman from Blanding filed a bill to get the Utah legislature to censure Romney. His publicly-stated reason? “We want to have good relationships with President Trump.”

His idea got a fairly quick kibosh, but instead Utah legislative leaders have agreed to issue an utterly unnecessary resolution solely to praise the president for “supporting Utah.”

You may remember that soon after his election in 2016, Trump rescinded portions of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, opening the land to developers.

Recognizing the president’s penchant for collateral-damage vengeance against those who don’t agree with him, Utah is now spinning to see how fast the state can simultaneously turn its back on Romney, while dropping to its knees to grovel before the president.

I am baffled by all this — I admit it. First, it’s not like Romney’s vote had any impact whatsoever in the final decision. Romney cast his vote, and the president is still the president.

But since when are we as a nation so afraid of one man’s dissenting opinion that in its wake we must collectively genuflect before the king and kiss his ring of power?

This whole thing is getting out of hand.

Because I’m not at all convinced that the problem is Mitt Romney. The problem is us.

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Chris Huston is an author and award-winning columnist living in the Magic Valley. Connect with Chris on Facebook and Instagram at Chris Huston-Finding My Way and at chrishustonauthor.com.


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