A garbage dump on fire

Why are We Shocked Mitt Romney is Still Mitt Romney?

Sen. Mitt Romney just agreed to push forward a Supreme Court nominee from Donald Trump in the last days before a presidential election. Keep in mind that earlier this very year – just seven months ago – Romney voted to convict Trump on an article of impeachment relating to Abuse of Power.

Said Romney about this vote, “The grave question the Constitution tasks senators to answer is whether the president committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a ‘high crime and misdemeanor.’ Yes, he did.”

Somehow, Romney can vote that Trump should be removed from the presidency, yet at the same time insist Trump should be able to put forth a Supreme Court nominee as president.

A LIST OF WOULD-BE HEROES

Let’s go over a brief selection of the heroes who would save the day so we didn’t have to:

  • Hamilton electors in 2016 would buck the Electoral College in an unprecedented move.
  • Jill Stein’s recount would save the election instead of simply giving us access to more information.
  • Obama’s press conference toward the end of his presidency would change everything when there’s no possible way a press conference can undo an election.
  • The Steele Dossier would topple Trump.
  • John McCain would lead the charge despite being a moral Slip ‘N Slide throughout his career.
  • Lindsey Graham would help him do this instead of becoming Trump’s bestest golf buddy ever.
  • Susan Collins would stand up for what’s right instead of doing whatever kept her from facing a primary challenger.
  • Jeff Flake would fight for more than two seconds instead of enjoying his half-retirement.
  • Bob Corker would become reliable when allowing Trump to gut regulations was helping him make millions.
  • Bob Mueller would embarrass Republicans with a dramatic show of anger instead of simply fulfilling his role as an investigator.
  • Mitt Romney would be the voice of moderation instead of folding like a lawn chair the very same way he has throughout his entire career.

Again and again, we find ourselves shocked that our hero of the moment doesn’t fix everything. Why? Because they surprise us by continuing to be exactly who they’ve always been, instead of having an inexplicable third act character reversal. We volunteer to excuse ourselves from the process in the hope that one of our heroes, or a “moderate” Republican, or a senator who’s retiring and has one good speech, will fix everything despite having failed to after countless chances.

There are useful efforts that have been productive in this list, but we too often consider those efforts complete jobs from people we assume will take a next step they never said they would take. Viewing them that way, or waiting and hoping for that person to take that next step delays us from using the step they’ve already taken as a foundation to build from.

The people we make heroes of will – at the very best – do their jobs well. That’s it. At their worst, their stances are marketing points that have been copied 50 times over and mean nothing.

If they do their jobs well, it’s up to us as an activist coalition to take full advantage of it. If they’re just ambulatory blogvertising with a smile toggle like Romney, it’s up to us as an activist coalition to mitigate the damage and turn it around as much as possible.

The power to change what is happening still rests with us. Every time we’re disappointed a hero didn’t save us, we’re just disappointed with the inconvenience and reminder that we’ve got to do that work instead. And you know what? It is a shitty inconvenience. It sucks, but complicity is bred from the dangerous idea that someone else will do the work, so we can justify excusing ourselves from it.

I get it. It’s fucking hard. We shouldn’t have to do this, but we talk about how this is a marathon. A general election is coming up. Trump can be replaced. The final stage of any run, even marathons, is where you push yourself hardest – it’s when you’re most exhausted and it’s easiest to give up and coast. It’s when you’ve got to sprint out that last stretch after your energy’s already expended, after it’s been gone for some time. There are either two choices – you do it, or you let someone else win.

The worst results won’t come if we’re disappointed by people in power. The worst results that can happen come if we end up disappointing ourselves. We still control whatever process we get enough people to make noise over, and that volume influences public opinion that shifts even more voices to our side.

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