Guest columnist Michael Dover: Dear Mitt, it’s time to reject the GOP

  • Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, last October. AP

Published: 5/13/2021 1:07:06 PM

An open letter to Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah.

   Dear Mitt,

Maybe it’s time for a change. Maybe it’s time for you to revisit your sojourn here in Massachusetts, when you actually governed. It was a time when you proposed and passed a landmark health care law that served as a template for the Affordable Care Act.

You were considered a “moderate” Republican back then — you had to be, working as you did with a legislature controlled by Democrats in a heavily Democratic state. It was only later, in 2012 when you were seeking the Republican presidential nomination, that you surprised a lot of us by declaring yourself an “extreme conservative” and wrote off 47% of the population with the words, “I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” This was not the “moderate” Mitt that we thought we knew.

Now, as a senator, you’ve shown considerable courage to vote to convict Donald Trump in both of his impeachment trials. And you’ve spoken out against Trump’s extremism and marched with Black Lives Matter protesters. And yet — and it’s a big “yet” — you’ve stood with Mitch McConnell in lockstep as he has packed the federal courts with Trump loyalists and vowed to do everything in his power to block President Biden’s agenda.

Are you really opposed to the For the People Act, which would stop Republicans in state legislatures around the country from trying to disenfranchise millions of voters? Are you really against universal pre-kindergarten and other family-friendly proposals? I thought Republicans touted themselves as the pro-family party.

Are you OK with your party’s continual insistence that Trump won last year’s election “by a landslide?” Is it all right with you that they want voters to believe that Biden is an illegitimate president, in office only through massive and unprecedented fraud? And are you comfortable that the so-called party of Lincoln is now more like the party of Jefferson Davis? Where do you draw the line?

Your party came into existence as anti-slavery politicians left the Whig Party over its ineffectual response to the moral issue of the time. It’s the worst of ironies that today’s Republican Party is now the main actor in trying reinstate Jim Crow-like laws as their only means to retain power. Is that not a problem for you?

It’s time for a change. It’s time for you to step forward and reject the party that the Republicans have become and repeat history by leading an exodus. The party has been losing members ever since Trump took office, and probably before. Now is the time to stand up and say “Enough!” You could start by leaving the party yourself, becoming an independent, and caucusing with the Democrats.

You’d be something of a kingmaker for the next couple of years, choosing your positions as a matter of conscience rather than as a mere follower of a megalomaniac minority leader. Meanwhile, you could be gathering your own followers and convince like-minded colleagues to join the hundred-plus Republicans — including former officials — who are on the verge of starting a third party.

That move could begin to reclaim the name “conservative” from the extremists who are anything but conservative. It took the Republicans just two election cycles to win the presidency and the Congress back in 1860. Even if this new party took much longer, it could be instrumental in many policy debates and votes if they actually sought ways to work with Democrats.

I’m no conservative, but I would welcome a party that was interested in governing, in fair elections, in human rights. I’d welcome a party with which real debate and compromise was not only possible, but fruitful. And I’d welcome a time when the country could, through genuine discussion, arrive at consensus about fundamental goals while vigorously debating the means to achieve them.

Your moment is here, Mitt. You can lead, or you can follow. Which will it be?

Michael Dover is a retired environmental scientist and a cofounder of Swing Left Western Massachusetts. He lives in Leverett.

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