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Commentary: Romney is rendering unto Trump that which is Trump’s

Romney needs to survive, if only to piece together the remnants of the Republican Party when Trump self-destructs, which he will undoubtedly do.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune)Mitt Romney speaks in Orem, Tuesday June 26, 2018.

I respectfully disagree with the author of “An eerie absence in Romney’s commentary” (by Atticus Edwards, July 15), in which Mitt Romney’s moderate response to Donald Trump is characterized as cowardly self-preservation.

Romney’s refusal to attack Trump when not absolutely necessary is undoubtedly self-preservation, but such self-preservation is calculated, not cowardly. Romney knows that the president and his administration represent extremists within the Republican Party, and he also knows that attacks on Trump merely provide him with more opposition on which to thrive.

Of late, Romney seems to be picking his battles with Trump cautiously, in the hopes of surviving and outlasting Trump. And Romney needs to survive, if only to piece together the remnants of the Republican Party when Trump self-destructs, which he will undoubtedly do, if his irrational behavior and bombastic rhetoric continue to alienate America’s allies and threaten innocent children.

While furious opposition to Trump’s every tweet is therapeutic, how are the outraged cries of liberals, who are justifiably disgusted by the Trump administration’s family separation policy, in any way helping caged children reunite with their parents? Lacking any concept of nuance, Trump understands, and will be swayed by, only one language — flattery. The man interprets everything that isn’t a blatant attack as a form of praise. I think Romney is wise (or perhaps cunning) to use Trump’s assumptions against him, to allow the president to mistake his strained tolerance for a ringing endorsement, which will perhaps enable Romney to attain a position of influence in the party and be a means of doing some good.

And Mitt Romney’s tolerance is just tolerance. Romney has shaken hands with Trump, but he’s not a sycophant. Romney openly criticized Pastor Robert Jeffress, Trump’s pick to give the prayer at the opening of the Jerusalem embassy. He also criticized Trump’s degrading comments about women, as well as his troubling bromance with Vladimir Putin. Romney is clearly not without principles, but he will not act on them unthinkingly. Rather, he will do what is necessary to further those principles in the long run.

I don’t blame people for wishing that Mitt Romney had inherited his father George Romney’s tough, straight-talking, but always honorable style — a style that’s badly needed in a time when people frequently mistake spinelessness for party loyalty, vulgarity for simplicity. But Mitt Romney did inherit his father’s most important quality: gallantry.

Romney is returning to Washington when others are fleeing. He will not abandon America in a time of crisis. Rather, he is running for the U.S. Senate and doing what he must in order to remain relevant in the Republican Party, even if it means bending to Trump’s egotism when absolutely necessary. This ability to bend and not break, to cherish hope in the future of the Republican Party without giving in to the hysteria of the present, gives me reason for optimism.

Words alone won’t stop Trump, but voters will. And who better to vote for than a man who has proven he can put up with Trump without signing off on Trump’s agenda, effectively straddling the divide in the Republican Party? The time will come to oust Trump, but for now, Republicans need someone who can work with Trump but not for Trump. Republicans need Romney.

I am voting for Romney, not because he’s perfect, or because I in any way support Donald Trump, but because he’s rendering unto Trump what is Trump’s, taking him policy by policy rather than responding impulsively to a man who cannot be shamed. I believe that when the time comes, Mitt and his moderation may just save us all.

Micah Cozzens, Provo, is a graduate student studying English at Brigham Young University.

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