Utah Senator Mitt Romney was already in trouble with his state party for being one of only seven Republicans to vote to convict Donald Trump in his impeachment trial. There has been a move afoot to censure the senator for his actions and the effort is being endorsed from one end of the state to the other.
Some local Republicans want Romney censured, claiming he failed to “represent the average conservative Utah Republican voter” and “misrepresented himself as a Republican” when he ran for office. It also claims “Romney appears to be an agent for the Establishment Deep State.”
But that effort has not been endorsed by the state party. On Monday, they emphatically rejected any attempt to censure Romney, issuing a statement that said, in part, “The differences between our own Utah Republicans showcase a diversity of thought, in contrast to the danger of a party fixated on ‘unanimity of thought,’” the Utah party said. They were referring to Senator Mike Lee, who voted to acquit the former president.
Evan McMullin, a former Republican who ran for president as an independent in 2016, said he was dumbfounded by the backlash against Romney from members of his own party.
“Mitt has done more to defend the Constitution than any congressional Republican in modern history. He is serving the country and doing more to defend liberty than anyone else,” said McMullin. “We need to stand with him.”
He shouldn’t be “dumbfounded” considering what’s going on elsewhere in the country where GOP apostates are facing the wrath of a pro-Trump state party. The list of censured Republicans is growing quickly.
McMullin, a frequent critic of Trump during his time in office, said Romney’s courage should be celebrated, not condemned.
“There is a tremendous need and opportunity for Utah to lead on this. There are plenty of good Republicans in Utah who are committed to the founding principles of our country, the very same kind of leadership Mitt is offering right now,” McMullin said. “This isn’t about Republicans, Democrats or independents. It’s about putting the country and Constitution first.”
“I’ve been saying the best censure occurs at the ballot box,” said Derek Brown, chairman of the Utah State GOP. But this isn’t about the censure. Rank-and-file Utah Republicans are acting instinctively. The drive to remove those who don’t think like the majority is irresistible.
The party is under an unprecedented assault — not only from the left and the media but from their own members as well. It’s all well and good to talk about “diversity” of opinion when things are going reasonably well, but when it hits the fan, the instinct is to stand shoulder to shoulder to repel the attacks together. Weak links are not welcome and, in this day and age, not tolerated.
It may not be the best strategy going forward. The party may want Donald Trump and Trump himself will want to remain in the mix for 2024. But circumstances relating to the half-dozen or more investigations into Trump’s finances and his actions post-election may prevent him from playing the kind of role many in the party would want him to play.
Donald Trump will not “save” the Republican Party. For some, the party is already beyond redemption. For others, a party without Trump is not possible. American politics and the Republican Party have never experienced this kind of chaos before and where and how it will all shake out will determine the nation’s direction going forward.