The impeachment trial of United States President Donald Trump had a fairly predictable outcome.
Many were shocked at the revelations on how he attempted to get a foreign government to investigate a political rival, even going to the extent of withholding military aid if Ukraine officials did not do his bidding. In the end, however, the senators voted along party lines. Since the Senate was dominated by Trump’s political allies, the Republicans, the inevitable happened: Acquittal.
There was a lone Republican however who voted to convict Trump—Mitt Romney, the former governor or Massachusetts who challenged President Barack Obama during the latter’s 2012 re-election bid.
In a statement, Romney narrated how he received numerous calls and text messages from his colleagues, demanding that he “stand with the team.” Romney acknowledged that in the past, he had been supportive of Trump, voting with him 80 percent of the time. But on this matter, he could not support his party’s leader. The task at hand was to determine whether the President committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a “high crime and misdemeanor.”
“Romney’s answer: Yes, he did. The President asked a foreign government to investigate his political rival. The President withheld vital military funds from that government to press it to do
so. The President delayed funds for an American ally at war with Russian invaders.The President’s purpose was personal and political. Accordingly, the President is guilty of an appalling abuse of the public trust.”
This decision was the most difficult he had one to make, he said. But he took an oath before God—he says he is a religious man—to exercise impartial justice. “The Constitution is at the foundation of our Republic’s success, and we each strive not to lose sight of our promise to defend it.”
He expects some backlash. “I will be vehemently denounced. I am sure to hear abuse from the President and his supporters,” he said. He went ahead with his guilty verdict, anyway.
We know little of Romney’s political behavior and motives outside of this impeachment move, but it’s a move that is commendable and worth emulating. Party loyalty, after all, is a big issue not only in the United States but also here in our country.
We are all too familiar with politicians who dare not act according to conscience, or who choose to stay silent in the face of injustice just because they want to be perceived in a good light by the powers-that-be. They toe the so-called party line and look the other way even in the face of egregious acts, fearful of reprisal. They forget that their sworn duty is to the people, first and foremost. They lose sight of why they went into public service in the first place. And so they remain team players.
“We’re all footnotes at best in the annals of history,” Romney said in his statement. May our leaders always be reminded of that instead of being delusional about their own importance, power and consequence.