If Americans want our constitutional system to withstand the next authoritarian attack, we should look for men and women like Senators Romney, Benton and Byrd, who worry more about how they will be judged by history than by their peers. George W. Bush was a terrible president — but might have proved a useful post-presidential senator because he would have been less cowed than his colleagues by Mr. Trump.
John Quincy Adams served in Congress for 17 years after leaving the White House. Given how vulnerable America’s governing institutions are, maybe Barack Obama could be convinced to do something similar.
Like most people, I’d prefer senators who do what I think is right. But I’d take comfort if more at least did what they think is right. That’s more likely when you’ve reached a phase of life when the prospect of losing an election — or being screamed at in an airport — no longer seems so important. America needs more senators who can say — as Daniel Webster did to his constituents in Massachusetts — “I should indeed like to please you; but I prefer to save you, whatever be your attitude toward me.”