Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) yesterday spearheaded a foolish stunt, getting senators to vote on whether to reject Donald Trump's impeachment trial as unconstitutional. Of the 50 Republicans in the Senate, 45 went along with this nonsense.
One of the five who didn't, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), spoke soon after at an event at the Economic Club of Chicago, where he shared some candid thoughts about the responsible steps his party should be taking right. The Deseret News reported:
Former President Donald Trump will never admit that he lost a fair election, but every elected Republican ought to be telling voters that as a step toward bringing the country together, Sen. Mitt Romney said Tuesday. In addition to social media perpetuating the "big lie" that Trump is somehow still president and President Joe Biden stole the election, GOP officials, too, are contributing to that notion, the Utah Republican said.
"You have many of the Trump supporters in elected office, senators, congresspeople, governors, continuing to say the same thing, that the election was stolen," Romney said.
The Utah Republican added that elected GOP officials should go on Fox News and say, "You know what, I was a big Trump supporter, I was really pulling for Donald Trump, but he lost fair and square."
This won't happen, of course, but it would make a difference -- not only to those who want to see some shred of contrition among those who tried to subvert our democracy, but also as a matter of public safety.
There remain armed and radicalized groups that continue to believe the Big Lie about the 2020 presidential election, at least in part because so much of the Republican Party has resisted calls to reject the lie.
The more GOP officials make clear to the public that the Big Lie is garbage, the more it may discourage people from committing acts of violence.
As we recently discussed, were it not for the Big Lie, there would not have been a deadly insurrectionist attack at the heart of our nation's democracy. It's precisely why our political system is healthier when Republican officials acknowledge the truth.
As for those on the right who insist that the upcoming impeachment trial might spark unrest, Romney went on to add, "I say, first of all, have you gone out publicly and said that there was not widespread voter fraud and that Joe Biden is the legitimate president of the United States? If you said that, then I'm happy to listen to you talk about other things that might inflame anger and divisiveness. But if you haven't said that, that's really what's at the source of the anger right now."
For what it's worth, in the coming weeks and months, Democrats will likely be disappointed if they expect to see Romney as a reliable "moderate" vote on key legislative priorities. The Utah senator remains a conservative Republican, and that won't change.
But Romney also clearly places a high value on democracy, which in 2021, sets him apart from much of his party.