This is an excerpt from the chapter titled Any Republican Will Do":
My first opportunity to vote was in 1984; I was 20 years old. I remember being excited about the right to vote. I voted for Ronald Reagan. Four years later, I voted for George H. W. Bush. Four years after that, I voted for him again. Four years later, I voted for Senator Bob Dole. Then I voted for George W. Bush twice, then Senator John McCain.
It wasn't until Mitt Romney received the nomination to be on the Republican ticket for President that I began to ask myself, "will any Republican do?"
Mitt Romney didn't seem to be a bad guy. As a lifelong Republican voter, I didn't see how he fit in with Republicans that I had voted for in the past. I always have and always will admire George W. Bush. I admired the courage he displayed in banning partial-birth abortions and launching his faith-based initiatives. As a career military man, I also admired his stance on the conduct of the Gulf War and his response to the 9-11 attacks— it was in this light that I reviewed Mitt Romney's candidacy.
From my perspective, Romney wasn't a very strong opponent of abortion, nor would he be considered a champion for the "religious right." He seemed to be just a wealthy businessman running for office and the only one with enough support to feasibly run against President Obama.
I remember sitting down with my two youngest daughters and explaining to them why I, as a black man, didn't vote for the country's first black President. They were teenagers, and I knew they would soon be making their own voting decisions. I wanted them to know how I decided who to vote for. I told them that there were some things that I believed in very strongly, and one of them was that abortion was wrong. I also told them that I had never voted for anyone that supported abortion.
I explained to them that as articulate and as impressive as President Obama was, and even though he was a Harvard-educated African-American man, with charisma on a gigawatt scale, I could not vote for him because of his views on abortion.
When I considered Romney, I thought he represented a new type of Republican, one whose main focus was the economy and the interests of the wealthy. For me, he was the embodiment of the "any Republican will do" mentality. For the first time, I abstained in the vote for President; I didn't check a box. I could not, at that time, cast a vote for President Obama because of his stance on abortion, but I also couldn't get enthusiastic about the "any Republican will do" candidate, Mitt Romney.
Ironically, I recently found myself looking with hope to Mitt Romney. He stood out as a Republican leader with the guts to challenge the conduct of President Trump. I have been dismayed, even disgusted that there was no Republican leader with the courage to challenge a president that I believe has tarnished the image of the Republican Party.
In her Oct 2, 2019, Washington Post article, "Dear Sen. Romney: The times have found you," Jennifer Rubin expresses similar sentiments.
“Dear Sen. Romney,
Refusing to parrot the hear-no-collusion-see-no-collusion attitude of your Republican colleagues responding to the released July 25 transcript puts you in a small group of Republican lawmakers who have not jettisoned all moral authority. You know, as your colleagues do not (or pretend not to know), that it is a fundamental breach of the President's oath of office to seek foreign collaborators to determine the outcome of the election…
The Republican Party seems determined to go down with the sinking ship, taking anyone on the ballot with an "R" next to his or her name down with it. They seem insistent on further dividing the country and perpetrating out-and-out lies. Both because you have not sullied yourself by participating in such conduct and because you are immune to intimidation and threats (you're not on the ballot for five years and you don't need this job anyway), you are uniquely situated to do several critical things…House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) likes to say the "times have found us" in reiterating the solemn duty of the House. I would suggest they have found you too.”
Interestingly, enough Senator Romney posted these remarks on Twitter about the President and his request that China investigate Joe Biden:
When the only American citizen President Trump singles out for China's investigation is his political opponent in the midst of the Democratic nomination process, it strains credulity to suggest that it is anything other than politically motivated. @MittRomney 12:02 PM Oct 4, 2019
By all appearances, the President's brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling.
Mitt Romney replying to @MittRomney
I live in Arizona, and I have been an admirer of former Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake. I liked the fact that he was unafraid to speak out against the President when his behavior warranted it. He said recently that his former Republican colleagues were reluctant to speak out against the President on the matter of asking foreign governments to investigate Joe Biden. Specifically, he said, "There is a concern that he'll get through it and he'll exact revenge on those who didn't stand with him."
Jeff Flake said something else that I found very telling. He said, "There is no love for the President among Senate Republicans, and they aspire to do more than answer questions about his every tweet and issue. But they know this is the President's party and the bargain's been made." I asked myself what's the bargain? Here’s my conclusion: if you keep proving that you can win, we will back you no matter what you do because for Republicans winning is all that matters.
Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former Secretary of State Colin Powell echoed similar sentiments when he said:
"’The Republican Party has got to get a grip on itself. Right now, Republican leaders and members of the Congress, in both the Senate and in the House, are holding back because they're terrified of what will happen to any one of them if they speak out,’ Powell said. ‘Will they lose a primary? I don't know why that's such a disaster, but will they lose a primary?” (Becker, 2019)
Republican leaders have lost their moral compass. When Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was a young politician, he called the Watergate affair "totally repugnant" and denounced the conduct of President Richard Nixon. (Rucker, 2019)
However, his most recent campaign ad shows him stoutly supporting President Trump, saying, "The way that impeachment stops is a Senate majority with me as majority leader." (Kaplan, 2019) How could a Republican leader who watched the corruption of Watergate unfurl, stand idly by as the President flaunts the fact that he invited a foreign government to interfere with our election process?
When candidate Donald Trump was caught on tape speaking of grabbing a woman by the genitals, I knew he was done politically, but to my amazement, he wasn't. When candidate Trump referred to Mexicans in the vilest terms that I had ever heard from any political leader, I thought surely he was done.
I remember as a Republican teacher, in a primarily Hispanic community, being surrounded by Hispanic students, shortly following candidate Trump's remarks. They asked me, "Mr. T, are you voting for Trump?" I remember assuring them that I would never vote for Trump. In the back of my mind, I just knew that he would never make it that far. There was no scenario that I could imagine that candidate Trump would receive the Republican Party’s nomination.
Then the unthinkable started to happen. The candidate with the least demonstrated moral character, no military service, no record of success in public office, no identification with the religious right, the one whose success as a "businessman" had been derided and ridiculed—this candidate began to emerge as the front runner.
It was clear that candidate Trump's white nationalism, anti-immigration, cut taxes for the wealthy and villainize all things Obama, were making him the candidate with the best chance to beat former first-lady, Secretary of State and Senator, Hillary Clinton. Political affiliation aside, on paper, candidate Trump's political resume did not deserve to be compared to Hillary Clinton's. However, under the "any Republican will do" banner, candidate Trump was amply qualified. We know the rest of the story.
The Republican candidate that was deemed most capable of winning the election was given the nomination, despite the lack of credentials shared by previous Republican candidates such as Ronald Regan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Bob Dole, and John McCain (governor of a large state, service in the Armed Forces of the United States, heroism in combat, distinguished record in Congress).
As the 2020 election nears and now coincides with an impeachment trial in the Senate, there is still the palpable, yet incomprehensible sense that Republican leaders will ride the elephant until it dies while carrying the banner "any Republican will do." The following quotes mirror the exasperation that I feel:
“Republicans largely stood behind Trump in 2016 after the release of the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape on which he bragged of sexual assault, as well as during the darkest days of the Russia investigation and in the wake of racist comments.
‘It feels like we've been constantly moving the line,’ said Tom Rath, a GOP fixture in New Hampshire. ‘We say, 'Don't cross this line.' Okay, you crossed it. So, 'Don't cross this line.' We're finally at a point where patience is exhausted, reason is exhausted and, quite frankly, the voters are exhausted." (Rucker, 2019)
“The GOP's paralysis was on display this past week in Templeton, Iowa, where a voter confronted Sen. Joni Ernst (R) at a town hall meeting Thursday over her silence about Trump's conduct. ‘Where is the line?’ Iowa resident Amy Haskins asked in frustration. ‘When are you guys going to say, 'Enough,' and stand up and say, 'You know what? I'm not backing any of this.'" (Rucker, 2019)
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