In these hyper-partisan times, Americans are looking for something to hang their hats on as a sign of hope, and Mitt Romney could be the answer.
Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, announced his candidacy for the upcoming Senate race in Utah this November. Romney has been a frequent critic of President Trump, his criticisms putting him at odds with the national Republican Party. But Utah Republicans are unique: Trump fared poorly there during the 2016 primaries, receiving just 14 percent of the vote and finishing in a distant third place. And while he won the state in the general election, Trump garnered just 46 percent of the vote, the worst performance by a Republican in Utah since Barry Goldwater in 1964.
Romney, who is widely popular in Utah, is almost certain to get elected this November in the reliably red state. His style of politics couldn’t be more different than that of the current President. While conservative on most issues, including support for tax cuts, deregulation and increased military spending, Romney diverges from the Trumpian Republicans in terms of his heavy emphasis on civility and respect.
The former Republican presidential nominee has been critical of Trump’s behavior at times, most notably when Trump endorsed Roy Moore, the accused child molester and twice-expelled Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, for the Senate race in Alabama last December. In a tweet sent out one week before the election, Romney stated that “Roy Moore in the U.S. Senate would be a stain on the GOP and on the nation … No vote, no majority is worth losing our honor, our integrity.”
On several policy matters, such as U.S./Russia relations, the Paris Climate Agreement and free trade, Romney also disagrees with Trump.
Most importantly, as seen by his successful four-year-tenure as Governor of Massachusetts, Romney is able to work across the aisle in a civil manner to achieve results. He can do the same in the Senate, which badly needs some fresh blood considering the degree of bickering and partisanship in our current Congress.
The sad truth behind our current political climate is that extremism, in all its forms, is gaining momentum. The hard-line conservatives, represented by the 31 members of the House Freedom Caucus, are among the most influential members of Congress these days, and are backed by infamous right wing radio personalities such as Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham. This growing faction in the Republican Party is here to stay, and will continue to promote primary challenges to more moderate Republican members of Congress.
The Democrats, meanwhile, are in the midst of their own identity crisis. The progressive left, led by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, are on the rise within the party. This momentum has translated into several primary challenges in the upcoming election cycle, one of which is against centrist Democratic congressman Dan Lipinski of Illinois’ 3rd District, who is in the fight of his life in his bid for an eighth term.
Lipinski, whose Chicago-based district is considered a safe seat for Democrats, is being challenged by progressive candidate Marie Newman. “[Lipinski’s] votes on immigration and his votes on health care have been astonishing to me and just demonstrate how out of touch he is with the people of this district,” said Newman.
With the mainstream versions of the American far-left and far-right gaining energy, the one glimmer of hope for centrism remains in Utah, where Romney has a 69 percent approval rating, and is likely to win the primary. This may be the last chance either party has to elect a congressional candidate that is committed to working across the aisle.
By sending Mitt Romney to the Senate, Utahans would be doing a favor for the American people.