Utah’s political landscape suffered a great misfortune recently as well-tolerated oligarch Mitt Romney announced he won’t be seeking reelection. Romney, age 76, has had a splendid political career as a poster child for the George W Bush style “let them eat cake” brand of ‘compassionate conservatism’ – a healthy blend of giving the poor some show of compassion but little else.
Who could forget when Romney triumphantly declared his slogan “Corporations are people, my friend!” during his 2012 presidential campaign. Surely there was never a better slogan to target the oppressed masses. How lovely did that sound coming from the founder of a job-eating private equity firm in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis? (One wonders why he didn’t win the election!)
Yet, as the GOP spiraled ever more into the tranquil and civil intellectualism of the Donald Trump era, Romney stood his ground. He only voted in line with Trump’s positions 75% of the time after all according to FiveThirtyEight. Romney bravely backed the oil and gas lobby 100% of the time and fought hard against reforming money politics including opposing transparency in political donations. A voice for the little man! Power to (some of) the people!
What’s next from Utah?
It’s even more amazing to consider what fresh leadership will look like coming from today’s Utah Republicans. Romney’s departure paves the way for a successor even more aligned with Trumpism in the mold of fellow Utah Senator Mike Lee. Lee’s support for book bans and immigration fear mongering are not surprising in the modern GOP. More bravely, he is also one of the loudest defenders of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas amid accusations of bribery and ethics violations. To top it off Senator Lee is deeply ensconced in the 2020 election truther community and unfortunately has to constantly deny and defend attempts by critics claiming he tried to execute a plan to undermine the election results himself.
How does the America of your grandparents end up moving from a golden era, to an oligarch era, to an era of cheaters and con men despite the great efforts of men like Romney and Lee? Well, for one example, 2022 primary elections in Lee’s URBAN hometown of Mesa, Arizona saw voter turnout of just 35% according to the Secretary of State. Also, in that same primary election statewide, every single current serving politician retained their positions in the Republican-dominated Senate and House. Apparently, Utah’s democracy is so good, every single politician is a keeper for life!
And it’s not just local and state politics either, or even just the Republicans. Federally, all 29 incumbent United States Senators won reelection in 2022. No incumbent lost. Thankfully, readers won’t have to worry for his welfare outside of Congress as Romney is worth an estimated $174,490,570 in 2018 according to Open Secrets. As the late comedian George Carlin said, “It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it.”