[guest post by Dana]
Sen. Romney has announced that he won’t be running for a second term in the Senate. In his statement, he namechecks both President Biden and Donald Trump. He also gives his answer to the ongoing question about the age of elected officials… Here is his statement in full:
You know, I enjoy my work in the Senate a good deal. The last few years have been particularly productive, as I was able to help lead and negotiate the bipartisan infrastructure law, a comprehensive China strategy process, religious liberty protections, a compromise gun safety law, the Electoral Count Act reform and emergency COVID relief funding. I was also able to help secure key Utah priorities, including funding for Hill Air Force Base and its program to modernize our nuclear deterrent, as well as funding for wildfire prevention, water infrastructure, rural broadband, removal of uranium tailings from Moab, expansion and restoration of our highway and transit infrastructure, and federal studies to save the Great Salt Lake.
I have spent my last 25 years in public service of one kind or another. At the end of another term, I’d be in my mid-eighties. Frankly, it’s time for a new generation of leaders. They’re the ones that need to make the decisions that will shape the world they will be living in.
We face critical challenges—mounting national debt, climate change, and the ambitious authoritarians of Russia and China. Neither President Biden nor former President Trump are leading their party to confront them. On the deficits and debt, both men refuse to address entitlements even though they represent two thirds of federal spending. Donald Trump calls global warming a hoax and President Biden offers feel-good solutions that will make no difference to the global climate. On China, President Biden underinvests in the military and President Trump underinvests in our alliances. Political motivations too often impede the solutions that these challenges demand. The next generation of leaders must take America to the next stage of global leadership.
While I’m not running for re-election, I’m not retiring from the fight. I’ll be your United States Senator until January 2025. I will keep working on these and other issues and I will advance our state’s numerous priorities. I look forward to working with you and with folks across our state and nation in that endeavor.
It is a profound honor to serve Utah and the nation, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to do so.
I’m dismayed that Romney has opted to bow out. And yet, it’s understandable. His presence as a Republican in the Senate brought an unparalleled gravitas, wisdom, and commitment to upholding the Constitution in a body where a vast number of fellow-party members demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice integrity for political expediency and political self-preservation.
The Atlantic has published an excerpt from a soon-to-be-released biography of Romney, written by McKay Coppins, entitled Romney: A Reckoning. It provides a look into what led to his decision to retire. While it discusses the conflicts and struggles Romney faced, as well as his insights gleaned, these particular observations stood out to me:
“A very large portion of my party,” he told me one day, “really doesn’t believe in the Constitution.”
Shortly after moving into his Senate office, Romney had hung a large rectangular map on the wall. First printed in 1931 by Rand McNally, the “histomap” attempted to chart the rise and fall of the world’s most powerful civilizations through 4,000 years of human history. When Romney first acquired the map, he saw it as a curiosity. After January 6, he became obsessed with it. He showed the map to visitors, brought it up in conversations and speeches. More than once, he found himself staring at it alone in his office at night. The Egyptian empire had reigned for some 900 years before it was overtaken by the Assyrians. Then the Persians, the Romans, the Mongolians, the Turks—each civilization had its turn, and eventually collapsed in on itself. Maybe the falls were inevitable. But what struck Romney most about the map was how thoroughly it was dominated by tyrants of some kind—pharaohs, emperors, kaisers, kings. “A man gets some people around him and begins to oppress and dominate others,” he said the first time he showed me the map. “It’s a testosterone-related phenomenon, perhaps. I don’t know. But in the history of the world, that’s what happens.” America’s experiment in self-rule “is fighting against human nature.”
Perhaps Romney’s most surprising discovery upon entering the Senate was that his disgust with Trump was not unique among his Republican colleagues. “Almost without exception,” he told me, “they shared my view of the president.” In public, of course, they played their parts as Trump loyalists, often contorting themselves rhetorically to defend the president’s most indefensible behavior. But in private, they ridiculed his ignorance, rolled their eyes at his antics, and made incisive observations about his warped, toddlerlike psyche. Romney recalled one senior Republican senator frankly admitting, “He has none of the qualities you would want in a president, and all of the qualities you wouldn’t.”
This dissonance soon wore on Romney’s patience. Every time he publicly criticized Trump, it seemed, some Republican senator would smarmily sidle up to him in private and express solidarity. “I sure wish I could do what you do,” they’d say, or “Gosh, I wish I had the constituency you have,” and then they’d look at him expectantly, as if waiting for Romney to convey profound gratitude. This happened so often that he started keeping a tally; at one point, he told his staff that he’d had more than a dozen similar exchanges. He developed a go-to response for such occasions: “There are worse things than losing an election. Take it from somebody who knows.”
To regain its lost credibility as a political party, Republicans need more Mitt Romneys in the Senate and House. He is the standard-bearer and example of successfully wrestling with one’s conscience and coming out the other side with an even firmer understanding that fulfillment of one’s duty to the Constitution and doing what’s right and honorable supersedes all else.