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Eric Rumple: Mitt Romney might fit better in the Utah United Party

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Sen. Mitt Romney speaks to Republican representatives at the state Capitol in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020.

Sen. Mitt Romney’s vote to convict President Trump was an epic act of courage and conviction. Romney is already suffering the retribution, and invective, from his erstwhile conservative and Republican allies.

While Romney bafflingly sought rapprochement with Trump for an interval following Trump’s election, it has been clear for some time that Romney has returned to his devastating and totally accurate assessment of Trump that he first delivered in March 2016.

Most of Romney’s fellow Republicans have abandoned their cherished and long-held public policy convictions in the wake of Trump’s ascension. In the not-so-distant past, Republicans were the party of fiscal probity (when Barack Obama had deficits the size of Trump’s current fiscal deficits, Republicans were apoplectic, even though the Obama deficits occurred during the Great Recession; Trump’s similar deficits are occurring in midst of a highly robust economy), free trade (Republicans spearheaded NAFTA and Republicans used to loathe tariffs) and robust immigration (Republicans validly complained vociferously about the lack of visas for high-skilled workers during the Obama administration).

Republicans also once embraced science (Trump’s policies deny climate and environmental science). All of these classic Republican policies have now been abandoned.

But with the impeachment saga, Republicans have gone beyond repudiating their long championed principles. Republicans have become the quintessential example of toadies and sycophants.

I will not rehash the facts surrounding the impeachment, which are not in dispute. Only fear and boot-licking loyalty can explain the Republican’s “nothing-to-see-here” response to the impeachment trial.

Let’s summarize: Mitt is being wrongly and viciously attacked for his sincere and fully valid convictions. Further, his former friends and allies have also abandoned the aforementioned classic Republican policies and beliefs.

I feel confident Mitt still supports these policies. In addition, Mitt’s fellow Republicans in Utah have demonstrated a breathtaking level of arrogance and hubris in overriding citizen-passed initiatives, as well as passing tax legislation that was immediately and embarrassingly repudiated by the people. Lincoln’s immortal prose about government of the people, by the people, for the people is a joke in Republican-controlled Utah.

What to do when the people who used to stand beside Romney have abandoned their integrity, their policies, their dignity, and not least, Romney himself?

I’m advocating that Romney should leave the Republican Party and seek reelection in 2024 on the ticket of the United Utah Party. I am not a member of the United Utah Party. I am not affiliated with the United Utah Party or the Party’s leadership. I certainly do not speak for the United Utah Party. I’m just a citizen of Utah.

But from my citizen’s vantage point, I suspect the United Utah Party would be more accommodative of Mitt’s classic Republican policies than the abomination that is the current Republican party in Utah and Washington.

With Mitt involved, strong candidates could likely be recruited to challenge the Utah Republican congressmen who blindly supported Trump and looked the other way. Mitt could also help immensely in finding, and supporting, a challenger to Sen. Mike Lee in 2022.

The people of Utah are savvy and engaged enough to support a third party. That might not be true everywhere else in the country, but the example of the rise of a third party in Utah might inspire the two main parties in the rest of the nation to move to the center and begin to embrace compromise and collaboration. At a minimum, Romney’s joining the United Utah Party would be a noble experiment.

Sen. Romney, what do you have to lose?

Eric Rumple

Eric Rumple lives in Sandy. He has an MBA from the University of Chicago and is the author of the novel “Forgive Our Debts.”

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