Will Mitt Romney be the Cato Republicans Need to Challenge Trump’s Caesar?
Any way you look at it, the midterms were terrible for President Donald Trump and Republicans. Put simply: three million more votes went to Democrats over the GOP.
Dems haven’t picked up this many House seats since 1974. Republicans couldn’t flip one governorship from Democrats, while Dems took seven, including Kansas, New Mexico, and Wisconsin. California now has a veto-proof state legislature, and Orange County, the Reddest of Red in California, is entirely occupied by elected Democrats.
It would be hard to argue that this “blue wave” came from leadership within the Democrat party, whether from Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Chuck Schumer, or DNC heads Tom Perez and Keith Ellison. This midterm result was nothing like what Rep. Newt Gingrich did in 1994, or RNC Chair Michael Steele pulled off in 2010.
The midterms were all about Trump. Specifically, the dislike/distrust/exhaustion people have for the president. A president, also, who is sitting on top of a very robust economy. An economy that should have assured Trump victories nationwide. For 2018, however, it’s not about the economy.
There are plenty of conservative critics out there willing to contradict President Trump. Jonah Goldberg, editor of National Review, Bill Kristol, founder and editor-at-large of The Weekly Standard, commentator George Will, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist.
However often, and with force, many of these conservative thinkers denounce Trump’s actions, it isn’t met with much political support. In fact, the opposite. Republicans running for office tried to do so standing in Trump’s shadow. It didn’t work. In fact only half of Trump’s endorsed candidates were elected.
Trump is unpopular and growing more and more unpopular. There is a fatigue that is associated with him. The discussions around him are not typically about policy, with a few exceptions. It’s strictly about behaviors. A chaotic White House, rage Tweets, name-calling in interviews. Americans are becoming tired.
None more so than Utah. Trump’s disapproval has jumped 19% since his inauguration. He’s now underwater, as more Utahans disapprove of him than approve.
But Utah was never really Trump country, anyway. During the 2016 Republican Caucus, Sen. Ted Cruz earned five times the votes there than Trump did. In the actual election, Trump only beat Clinton by 200,000 votes. Third party candidate Evan McMullin was able to get 21% of the vote. These aren’t great numbers for a Red state.
Former Massachusetts Governor, and newly elected Utah senator Mitt Romney has long had a combative relationship with Trump. Like many, Romney had issues with Trump’s behavior, but notably also his policies. Romney believed Trump’s economic plans would hasten a recession, as well as cause a ballooning of the deficit. He said this in March of 2016, two years before we saw a trillion-dollar hole created by congressional Republicans, with no plans to fill it.
Romney is the most high-profile political leader the LDS church has seen, and he’s now the senator of a state, where 63% of the population holds the same faith as him. He could be the Cato the Senate is missing, to Trump’s Caesar.
Years before Caesar crossed the Rubicon, Cato saw the political maneuverings Caesar was attempting: ones that would have given more power to one, and therefore less democracy for all.
Cato opposed every one of Caesar’s populist movements, which were designed to curry the favor of common folk. Cato saw the plans as short-sighted, believing they would be accompanied by financial problems. Plans that would also help elevate Caesar into a dictator perpetuo role. Cato was correct. And when Caesar did bring his army into Rome, the entire Senate body looked to Cato for leadership.
Cato’s unwillingness to yield to Caesar has made him a symbol of morality and integrity. More so, Cato seems to live on in American history. Our founding fathers studied him. He was an inspiration for George Washington, John Adams, Ben Franklin, Nathan Hale, and John Henry.
The Senate needs a Republican voice that can counter the president. A voice that would be free from the worry of losing an election, as Romney is positioned to. Romney is of the same faith as his constituents and a faith that prides itself on being kind, compassionate, and helpful of those in need.
The likelihood that Romney will become a Cato is not strong. Political party affiliation seems to be the greater power in today’s climate. And although Republicans are only 26% of the U.S. population, Trump still holds a 91% approval rating among them. Romney is a Republican.
Maybe we won’t get a Cato from Romney. But maybe we can at least get a Joseph Welch, asking President Trump is there is any decency left.
Kurt Shrout is a former military police officer in the United States Marine Corps. He holds a BA in History and has traveled to over 70 countries, living in 3 of them. Follow him on Twitter.
[Photo by George Frey/Getty Images]
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.