Do What is Right Let the Consequence Follow

One of my favorite stories of President Thomas S. Monson came in a talk entitled “Dare to Stand Alone.” In that talk, President Monson told about the end of his first week in Navy boot camp. After his commanding officer directed the Catholics, Protestants, and Jews to go to worship services, President Monson was left standing alone, or so he thought. But as he looked around, he realized that he was actually standing with others of his faith that he had not seen.

President Monson then explained that all of us will sometimes need to stand alone in defense of our faith or in doing what we believe to be right.

“With all my heart and soul, I pray that every man who holds the priesthood will honor that priesthood and be true to the trust which was conveyed when it was conferred. May each of us who holds the priesthood of God know what he believes. May we ever be courageous and prepared to stand for what we believe, and if we must stand alone in the process, may we do so courageously, strengthened by the knowledge that in reality we are never alone when we stand with our Father in Heaven.”

I was reminded of this story today, as I watched the actions of Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT). Senator Romney was the only member of his party who broke ranks and voted to convict President Donald Trump of a count of abuse of power. More than that, Senator Romney is the only person in U.S. History to vote to convict a President of his or her own party.

Whether you agree or disagree with his choice (and it is no shock that I strongly support his decision), Senator Romney’s willingness to follow his conscience even if it meant standing alone is inspiring.

Romney spoke passionately about his decision on the Senate floor. His remarks were filled with the fervor of someone who is following his convictions. Romney explained that he had taken “an oath, before God, to exercise ‘impartial justice.”” He emphasized that as “a profoundly religious person” that oath was “enormously consequential.” Romney rejected the demand that he “stand with the team” and betray his conscience. He noted that his “promise before God to apply impartial justice required that I put my personal feelings and biases aside. Were I to ignore the evidence that has been presented, 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.”

Romney was well aware of the consequences of his decision. He knew that he would be labelled a traitor and that the President and his allies would come after him with all of the force they could muster. But he could not vote but to convict because of “an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me?”

Romney knew his vote would not change the outcome. But he voted for the sake of history and his posterity:

But irrespective of these things, with my vote, I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty to the best of my ability, believing that my country expected it of me. I will only be one name among many, no more or less, to future generations of Americans who look at the record of this trial. They will note merely that I was among the senators who determined that what the President did was wrong, grievously wrong.

We’re all footnotes at best in the annals of history. But in the most powerful nation on earth, the nation conceived in liberty and justice, that is distinction enough for any citizen.

In an interview with Chris Wallace about his vote, Senator Romney put his decision in starkly religious terms but invoking the Hymn”Do what is right.”

“There’s a hymn that is sung in my church. It’s an old Protestant hymn, which is, do what is right, let the consequence follow. I know in my heart that I’m doing what’s right. I understand there’s going to be enormous consequence and I don’t have a choice in that regard. That’s why I haven’t been anxious to be in the position I’m in. … I had to follow my conscience.”

In another interview with McKay Coppins in the Atlantic, Romney invoked the example of his father George Romney who courageously stood against his part in defense of civil rights. And he quoted his father’s favorite scripture from D&C 90:24: “Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good.” Romney also spoke of his constant prayer throughout the process.

For me, the example of Mitt Romney is a powerful one for many reasons. I love the example of a son drawing courage from his father’s brave example at his moment of trial. I love Senator Romney’s willingness to stand alone. I love how one man’s courageous example makes a difference, even if that impact is not easily measured in changed votes. Today, Senator Romney stood in defense of virtue and a willingness to do the right thing even if it is unpopular. He gave hope to many who had lost hope that any one was left in the Republican party who was willing to stand up and speak the truth.

I am proud to be member of the Church that Senator Romney belongs to. I see how his faith his influenced his actions and led him to stand apart. And I know that as President Monson explained, when we stand for right we are never truly standing alone.

28 thoughts on “Do What is Right Let the Consequence Follow

  1. I am curious to know what convictions guided Senator Lee, another member of our Church who I presume is in good standing, in his decision to acquit. Did he make a fervent public statement as well?

  2. Here are Senator Lee’s final remarks.

    Senator Lee takes a principled stance that what the President did in withholding aid was not wrong because the Constitution vests sole executive power in the President and what he did was just exercise oversight over foreign aid.

    I agree with everything he says in principle.

    I strongly disagree with him in this case because the President using his power as Chief Executive and Commander in Chief for his own personal gain is exactly the kind of abuse of power that impeachment was intended to prevent

  3. Yes, let the consequences follow. Too bad the 17th Amendment prevents the legislature from recalling him today — because he is a fool, if there ever was one.

  4. Joyce,

    I am disappointed that you would call a fellow Church member who is clearly doing his best to follow his conscience a fool.

  5. Well stated. The contrast between Senators Romney and Lee could not be more clear. Nor, unfortunately for the concept truth, could anything be more illustrative of the blinding of Utah Republican Party than the response of the hard core Utah Right to Senator Romney’s vote – they are already trying to run a bill in the Utah Legislature to recall Senator Romney (the effort started with just his vote for witnesses). The President abused the power of his office (and broke the law according to the Justice Department report) and did it for personal gain at the expense of the security of the United States – how *any* Senator could not consider that a serious “high crime” is beyond me..

  6. I will say that I ordinarily respect Senator Lee greatly and I even share his concern about efforts by the administrative state to subvert the power of the presidency. But I think Senator Lee has let his general feelings about the administrative state subvert his judgment here. This isn’t just an example of government bureaucrats second guessing policy they disagree with. This is an example of a President using the power of government corruptly and brave civil servants risking their careers to call it out.

  7. I was so pleasantly surprised to see him stand alone, following his conscience and honoring the oath he took, even at a very high political price. I agree with his assessment of the trial and his vote. He restored my good opinion of him as I have lost it for a while. Indeed he did what’s right and let the consequences followed.

  8. I guess Joyce is a Trumpette! Using such harsh language on Romney for following his conscience for once. She is calling the state legislature to do to him what the Trump cult followers said was being done to their god.

  9. “Trump cult followers…” Seriously Kareen? The fact is that both Senators Lee and Romney are good, decent men. One is conservative and the other is more liberal. Good people sometimes disagree.

  10. I admire both Romney and Lee. I don’t live in Utah, but I follow both of them because they are fellow members of the Church of Jesus Christ. It pains me a great deal to see other members of the Church that I also admire stoop to the petty and crass attacks that our current politics revels in. It pains me to see politics, which is temporary, cause good people to be unkind to their fellows.

  11. I would like to see us all displaying the kind of good faith that Mitt Romney did in his speech:

    “The Constitution established the vehicle of impeachment that
    has occupied both houses of Congress for these many days. We have labored to faithfully execute our responsibilities to it. We have arrived at different judgments, but I hope we respect each other’s good faith.”

  12. “Romney was well aware of the consequences of his decision. He knew that he would be labelled a traitor and that the President and his allies would come after him with all of the force they could muster. But he could not vote but to convict because of “an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me?””

    And if he would have voted to acquit, the same media and people would are now singing him praises would have devoured him. Nothing brave about Romney’s decision. But he did a great job trying to paint himself as a victim.

  13. If I could ever tell this to Mr. Romney in relation to the critics by members of his own party or even a comment by one of the TRUMPS sons:
    Sometimes there are people who flatter us with their contempt.
    Translated from the spanish: Hay personas que nos halagan con su desprecio.

  14. I wouldn’t be too quick to label either Mitt or Mike Lee as a good guy or bad guy because of their vote. Both are good men. Lee based his vote on his knowledge and interpretation of the constitution. Mitt came to a different conclusion. It would be unwise to assign greater spirituality or moral value to one or the other based on whether we happened to agree with them or not.

  15. I admire Romney’s courage. I’m not so sure I admire his wisdom. The Impeachment process was so highly partisan, and the case so weak from a legal perspective that it would likely have been dismissed before going to trial in an ordinary court of law. I don’t think voting to convict and remove the President from office on a matter so heavily entwined with partisan dispute without clearer evidence of actual wrongdoing was wise.

  16. It is highly inappropriate to bring our dear late President Monson into a political discussion in this manner. Good people can have very different opinions about such matters. With all due respect, please don’t use a dead prophet to justify your political argument it will only stir up contention.

  17. Confutus,

    I share your views. Voting for acquittal in this case is perfectly in accordance with a senator’s oath to uphold the Constitution. As an attorney who followed the proceedings and read the Articles, I do not believe that the case would have held up against a motion to dismiss. The definition of an impeachable offense was being stretched too far. Also, impeachable offenses must rise to the kind of evidentiary standard that lifts them above a partisan dispute. Otherwise, Impeachment has the potential to weaken the constitutional separation of powers by allowing an opposition party with a decent majority in Congress to use it as a political football to overturn or otherwise sway elections.

    I won’t be thinking less of Romney for his principled stand. He’s a good man. But in addition to my legal concerns mentioned above, I may oppose him on more prudential and pragmatic grounds (e.g., the long-term good I believe will come from the current administration’s judicial appointments, regulatory policy, religious freedom stances, energy policies etc.)

    Romney may oppose the current President and wish for a replacement. Fair enough. But that replacement won’t be him; it will be one of the Democratic candidates currently running. Put simply, there are numerous things about Trump that cause me great concern, but the current state of the post-modernist, activist Left scares the crap out of me. Its tribalistic, identity-based creeds and its ready willingness to drive those who disagree from public life and livelihood are, IMO, completely incompatible with both the Athens (Enlightenment) and the Jerusalem (Religious) components of Western Civilization. My principled stand is this: they must not succeed to national power.

    As usual, men and women of good will may differ.

  18. RK

    For me, Romney’s actions embodied President Monson’s words. But its okay if you see it otherwise.

    If you disagree with my take regarding Romney, please enjoy the wonderful clip and quotes from President Monson. That’s one reason I led with President Monson’s videos and quote rather than starting to talk about Romney right away.

  19. Does it have to be that Senator Romney was right and Senator Lee was wrong? Or vice versa? Can’t it be that they both did what they felt was right, and that’s okay?

  20. I am disturbed by Romney’s own tie to Burisma. His campaign advisor, Josef Cofer Black, a former CIA officer, served on the board of the notoriosly corrupt company at the same time as Hunter Biden. This information comes from NPR in a PR video made by the company. I have no idea if Romney was influenced by this individual, but combined with the way Romney wrenched Utah politics I am left with a bad taste in my mouth. It is possible to be deceived by friends and associates. I choose to think that Romney was in that position.
    I don’t like Trump’s ‘Santa Claus’ approach to spending, but I approve of other policies he has pursued. There is no realistic substitute for him in 2020 from the Republican party and all the likely candidates from the left are unacceptable to me. So I join Joyce Anderson as what Kareen would likely call a Trumpette.

  21. Pat,

    Do you know how many advisors a Presidential campaign has? The fact that one of Romney’s many advisors had some connection to Burisma says very little if anything. This feels like a conspiracy theory intended to distract from the facts of what Trump did and why it was so problematic.

  22. Pat,

    Do you know how many advisors a Presidential campaign has?

    Let me make sure I understand your theory. Among Romney’s dozens of advisors Romney had one who advised him on counter terrorism issues who was a CIA Veteran with strong national security credentials. Romney lost in 2012 and went back to private life. Two years later this advisor joined the Burisma board. And now 6 years later Romney is being impacted in his voting decisions by this advisor that he probably hasn’t spoken to in 8 years. Is that really your concern?

    That seems highly implausible. I will go further and say that this is likely a false narrative being pushed by supporters of the President to distract from the President’s wrong doings. I think you are smarter than to fall for that kind of baseless conspiracy theory

  23. Daniel Ortner,
    Romney has his own reasons for the votes he made. He has chosen a viewpoint I cannot support. I notice that everyone who proposes the idea that Romney was influenced by those with the idea that the CIA and the State Department and FBI should be a shadow government are accused of dealing with conspiracy theories. My current reading in the Book of Mormon is taking me through Third Nephi. I have personally encountered the toxic influence of the FBI. Yes, I do believe that good men can be used for ill.

  24. I don’t mean to be offensive, but sometimes you have to speak out. When I examine the life and actions of Jesus Christ and then the life and actions of Donald Trump I find it incomprehensible that a supporter of the former could be a supporter of the latter. Romney did a brave thing.

  25. Pat,

    I’m not saying that it isn’t possible that there are some people in the government committed to undermining the President’s policy agenda. I’m not even saying Mitt Romney isn’t sympathetic to them due to his more establishment views on foreign policy. What I am saying is that the suggestion that Romney voted the way he did because an advisor from his 2012 campaign joined the board of Burisma years later (it was actually 2017) is a conspiracy theory that has no basis in reality.

  26. RLindner
    I do not expect any mortal to meet the standard set by the Savior. If I was so foolish I could not support anyone. My focus as far as politics is concerned is focused on picked rather than personalities. As I view the results of DJT’s policies I fear for a rising burden of debt and the tendency to view my pocket and those of other taxpayers as a bottomless well that can be raised at will to fund folly. On the other hand I cheer policies that rein in the death cult of PP and seek to bring sanity to immigration and tamping down the idea that America should rule the world through endless meddling by means of war and threat. As for conspiracy theories, sometimes they aren’t theory but obfuscated facts.

  27. Pat Chui
    I’m not talking about any mortal meeting the standard set by the Savior. I’m talking about what I am taught at church every week – doing our best at being honest, generous, caring and kind and not just to your family. DJT doesn’t even try to meet such standards, rather he models the direct opposite. That’s OK because he cuts funding to PP (I may not agree with them either but calling them a death cult does kind of show your hand)? Romney may not be perfect either, but I’ll take him over DJT any day of the week. Sorry but conspiracy theories are nothing but overblown generalizations from weak facts in the service of one’s own particular axe to grind!

  28. R Lindner, I agree with you.
    It was noted round the world that the only republican senator that showed moral integrity was a mormon.
    If you realise that conservative parties in most of the first world are positioned closer to the democrats, (they have universal healthcare, they reduce abortion by providing education, and birth control resulting in rates a quarter of that of america, they try to control the extremes of income, they are adressing the climate emergency), so have trouble understanding the excuses the republicans use to justify their behaviour. It looks totally immoral, and the presidents ongoing sacking of those who would not swear an oath to him, indicates that was what he required and got from those senators who voted his way.
    God help America.

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