Romney stood up for the role of facts in our public life. The truth, he argued, does not depend on the needs and demands of our political tribe. At the center of impeachment was a factual question: Did the president commit an act so serious that it rises to the level of a high crime and misdemeanor? “Yes,” said Romney, “he did.”
And Romney stood up for the role of individual conscience in our political life. “Were I to ignore the evidence that has been presented,” he said, “and disregard what I believe my oath and the Constitution demands of me for the sake of a partisan end, it would, I fear, expose my character to history’s rebuke and the censure of my own conscience.”
What Romney regards as the defining moral commitments of his public life have no role at all in the president’s worldview. Institutions are obstacles to his whims. Truth is whatever he makes it. Conscience is for saps and losers. Trump’s presidency has been a rolling assault on these democratic virtues. Yet only one Republican senator was willing to be counted in their cause.