BYU students, faculty react to Romney’s vote to convict Trump

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People gather in support of Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, at the Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. Republicans in the state are unusually divided on the president, so while some were heartened to see Romney cast what he described as an agonizing vote dictated by his conscience, Trump supporters were left angry and frustrated. (Francisco Kjolseth/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)

Students and faculty across the BYU campus reacted to Utah Sen. Mitt Romney’s speech given on Feb. 5, announcing his vote to convict President Donald Trump on the first article of impeachment — abuse of power. 

Political science professor Adam Dynes was initially surprised by Romney’s decision, especially since it’s the first time a senator voted to have a president from his own party removed from office.

“That already sets it apart. This has been a highly partisan issue as any impeachment is going to be,” Dynes said. “Especially given how other Republicans argued that what Trump did was wrong but did not rise to the level of being impeachable.”  

Dynes also addressed the behavior of politicians in general and how they’re normally driven with incentives to respond to their voters’ preferences. 

“Especially on a very salient issue that everyone sees, follows and cares about.” Dynes said. “You usually anticipate that they will vote in line with their voters’ preferences.”

Despite the unexpected vote, Dynes said he thought Romney gave a strong, heartfelt speech in explaining his decision.

Another political science professor, Lisa Argyle, said that Romney’s vote to convict Trump was truly unprecedented.

“Romney is in a challenging position,” Argyle said. “When he says or does things that push back on party lines, he upsets Republican commentators, party leaders and voters — and he needs their support to stay in office.”

She added that right now, Romney has a lot of support for this action from those who wanted Trump removed, but that support is likely to wane when he returns to Republican politics as usual, and she doesn’t think that his conservative base will forgive and forget as quickly.

Students across campus also had opinions about Romney’s decision.

Hannah Webb, an elementary education major from Cedar City, said she’s glad Mitt Romney voted the way he did. 

“I think we need more people who are willing to do the right thing even if it goes against their party,” Webb said. 

Haley VanOverbeck, a BYU alumna who majored in international relations and minored in international developments, said that although she doesn’t agree with Romney on all policy issues, she has a tremendous amount of respect for his courage in defecting from the party in order to vote in accordance with his conscience.

Bowen Fuller, a political science major from Mesa, Arizona, also shared his thoughts. 

“I don’t necessarily disagree with Mitt Romney and his values and why he did it,” Webb said. “I think the part for me is, I feel like it maybe can add to the contention that is in the whole situation with the whole process. Romney voting to not acquit Trump can potentially add to more contention between the two parties.”

Gilbert, Arizona native and history major Jack Bailey believes Romney voted to convict Trump because of jealousy.

“Romney’s impeachment vote has nothing, at all, to do with the circumstances of Trump’s July phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky,” Bailey said. “It has everything to do with the all-too-tempting offer to indulge in his consuming jealousy and bloated ego by voting guilty on just one of the impeachment charges.”

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