In Hollywood, having a conscience is often an important plot device. Something bad is about to happen but then one of the characters has an attack of conscience and does a good thing instead. But what is “conscience?” Is it our better nature speaking to us? Is it an invisible little angel perched on our shoulder whispering into our ear, urging us to do the right thing?
Or is it merely an internal sensation we feel when we are faced with two or more competing urges? More specifically, is it a mechanism for resolving a conflict between our intellect and our emotions?
Our “intellect” comes from one part of our brains, and our emotions and feelings come from an older “reptilian” part of our brains. Most of our philosophy, religion, art, and literature is about resolving that conflict in favor of our intellect. Juveniles are ruled by their emotions. Maturity is the dominion of the intellect over emotion.
The ultimate in intellectual control is logical reasoning. It is intellect unbound from emotion. Mr. Spock and the Vulcans are all about logic. But emotions are sneaky. Our reptilian brains control the flow of hormones, and hormones are to intellect what chocolate is to Jenny Craig. Emotions will seduce intellect and corrupt logical reasoning. When emotion controls intellect, logical reasoning becomes rationalization.
Rationalization is pseudologic. It looks like logic and sounds like logic, but it is really just our intellect defending the choices our emotions made. Which brings me to Multiple Mitt and Lucienne Goldberg’s idiot son.
We all saw what Mittens did. We all saw the reaction. Democrats love them some Mitt Romney. They are smitten with Mittens. Eight years ago, Mitt was Hitler, but now he is a man of good character and moral rectitude. The reaction of Trump supporters ranged between “livid” and “apoplectic.”
Not one to pass up an anti-Trump controversy or a buffet table, Jonah Goldberg waded in.
I have criticized—and defended—Mitt Romney many times. But the effort, admittedly mostly from the worst goons, buffoons, and satraps of Trumpism, to describe him as a person of low character in defense of President Trump is one of the ugliest political spectacles I have ever witnessed. Has Romney at times been calculating? Of course. He’s a politician. But the suggestion that he is not an honest or decent man because he was “disloyal” to such a profoundly dishonest and indecent man is an exercise in mobbish immorality and the madness of crowds. And by the way, all of these gibbons and poltroons yammering on about how he was disloyal never seem to dwell on the question of why Trump should demand his loyalty in the first place? What does Romney owe Donald Trump? What trust or bond has he “betrayed”? Romney wasn’t elected because of Donald Trump.
If you honestly would prefer your children grow up to be more like Donald Trump than Mitt Romney, I don’t know that there’s anything left to talk about. Watch his actual speech on the floor. I have no problem with people who disagree with his reasoning. But to come away thinking he’s anything other than a man molded by charactering-building institutions (his family, his church, the Senate itself) who is trying to do right by them strikes me as a kind of Trump-personality-cult derangement.
And speaking of the d-word, last week I noted the effort to bend all of conservatism and the Republican Party to the cause of personal loyalty to Donald Trump was a form of intellectual corruption. This week we saw it could actually get worse. The hysterics insisting that Romney must be kicked out of the GOP—an effort Mitch McConnell sees for the idiocy it is—are in effect arguing that you can vote for all of Trump’s judges and the vast bulk of his legislative initiatives and it counts for nothing if you don’t accept full baptism into his cult of personality.
I’ve been saying for 20 years that the cult of unity is a poison and that the hero in the American political tradition is not the mob, but the man who stands up to it. This week there was one hero and it wasn’t Donald Trump.
Don Surber has a detailed answer to the questions raised by Doughy Pantload. I’ll add this:
Mitt Romney does owe Donald Trump his loyalty and support. Even more so, Mitt Romney owes the Republican party his loyalty and support. It what should have been a no-brainer Mitt Romney took the dishonorable course and betrayed the trust that was given to him by Trump and by the voters.
Politics is a team sport. In American politics, there are only two teams that can field a full roster of players all across the country. As our nation has become more polarized the importance of partisan loyalty has become more critical. The recently concluded impeachment proceedings were 95% partisan politics and 5% personal disdain for Donald Trump.
When you run for office as a member of a party there is an implied covenant of support for that party and that party’s candidates, at least in partisan matters. In the old days, there were liberals and conservatives in both parties. That made bipartisanship easy. Nowadays “compromise” and “comity” are dirty words, and the only time you see bipartisanship in Congress is when they are voting for a congressional pay raise.
Voters should have a reasonable expectation that if a Democrat candidate for the House or Senate wins an election he would vote like a Democrat for the entirety of that term in office. The idea that a Democrat office-holder would be a partisan for the Democrat party is baked into the cake.
In 2018 the voters in Utah voted for the Republican candidate for the Senate. That Candidate was Mitt Romney. He defeated a Republican in the primary and a Democrat in the general election. Would he have won either of those elections if he had proclaimed that he intended to support the Democrat efforts to impeach Trump?
We do not expect any elected official to violate his conscience, assuming he has one. But it defies credulity to assert that Trump is not only guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of an abuse of power but that said abuse of power was of such magnitude and scope that it mandated his conviction and removal from office less than a year from the next election. Keep in mind that when Mitt cast his vote it was already certain that Trump would be acquitted because there were more than 34 votes to acquit.
The impeachment of Donald Trump was motivated by partisanship and personal animosity. All but two House Democrats voted in favor of impeachment, and every Republican in the House, as well as two Democrat defectors, voted no. In other words, the GOP voted 288-1 against impeaching Donald Trump. Mitt was the one.
So what is up with Mitt’s high-toned moralizing and his statements explaining and defending his vote to impeach? That, boys and girls, was rationalization. That was the Mittster using his intellect to justify the petty and personal choices his emotions made. Mitt voted his conscience. The problem is his conscience is a disloyal, petty, and vindictive asshole.
The republicans might need Mitt Romney right now, but they don’t want him. Can you blame them?