No Place for Violence

Despite being a registered Democrat, I chose Senator Mitch Romney as the first lawmaker whom I wanted to contact after the January 6 insurrection.  I urged Romney, a thoughtful and courageous person, to rescue the Republican Party from Trumpism by running again for president.

My wish will not be fulfilled.  This past week, Romney announced that he won’t be running again for the Senate.  But Romney isn’t going quietly.  His memoir, Romney: A Reckoning, has just been released, and based on what early reviewers have shared, Romney isn’t afraid to tackle the issue of the Republican Party’s future. 

I intend to read Romney’s memoir, but what has already been shared from the book has corrected my understanding of Trump’s hold on the party.  Romney’s book provides names and specific comments of prominent Republicans who long for the Republican Party to move beyond Trump.  That is no surprise, given how key Republicans responded initially to Trump’s role on January 6 before they began back-pedaling.  

One revelation in Romney’s book, however, makes me gasp.  Romney cites how often fellow Republicans have approached him and lamented that they don’t have the courage to oppose Trump directly as Romney has done.  My first thought was that those Republican lawmakers are afraid that their right-wing constituents will no longer support them at the polls.

But the reason for knuckling under to Trump that Romney shares in his memoir is far more alarming.  These lawmakers have confessed to Romney that they have been warned.  To take a stand against Trump could put their lives and the lives of their children in danger.

I don’t think these lawmakers are paranoid or overly cautious.  What Romney’s memoir reminds us is that Republican lawmakers, like the rest of us, watched the rage that erupted on January 6.  They heard the same chant to find Vice President Pence and hang him.  And the previous April, they witnessed a mob assaulting the state capitol in Michigan, soon after Trump spoke about “liberating Michigan.”  These lawmakers are also fully aware of the kidnapping attempt of Governor Whitmer of Michigan and the more recent attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband in their home. 

Romney obviously intends his memoir to share not only his own concerns, but the concerns of other Republican lawmakers.  As the title suggests, our nation is at a point of reckoning.  If our form of government permits and rewards mob violence, we will no longer be a democracy.  Lawmakers afraid to be true to their consciences and speak the truth become puppets, not leaders. 

January 6, 2021, will be remembered as a turning point in our nation’s history, an event that will be recalled and referenced every four years during presidential campaigns.  The only question is this: “Was January 6 something that can never happen again in our country, or was that tragic day just the beginning of the end of democracy in America?”