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Romney says the return of Trump would ‘feed the sickness, probably rendering it incurable’

Senator Mitt Romney, R-Utah, spoke during a hearing on Sept. 30, 2021, at Capitol Hill in Washington.Greg Nash/Associated Press

Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah wrote in an essay published July 4 that the nation is suffering from a “malady of denial, deceit, and distrust” that would only heighten if former president Donald Trump returns to power.

In a sweeping and critical assessment of both sides of the political spectrum, the former Massachusetts governor warned the divides fracturing the country could lead to “serious consequences” if sound leadership does not emerge to “rise above the din to unite us behind the truth.”

“A return of Donald Trump would feed the sickness, probably rendering it incurable,” Romney wrote in The Atlantic.


Romney criticized “wishful thinking” that he said is occurring across the board — from ignorance over the existence of climate change and its impacts to “MAGA loyalists snicker[ing]” when “a renowned conservative former federal appellate judge testifies that we are already in a war for our democracy.”

“What accounts for the blithe dismissal of potentially cataclysmic threats?” Romney wrote.

Over the course of his career, Romney wrote, he has witnessed “time and again — in myself and in others — a powerful impulse to believe what we hope to be the case,” with a “classic example” of denial coming from Trump and his false claim that he won the presidential election “in a landslide.”

“Perhaps this is a branch of the same delusion that leads people to feed money into slot machines: Because I really want to win, I believe that I will win,” he wrote.

But when entire countries “fail to confront” the serious challenges embroiling them and looming on the horizon, “it doesn’t end well” — and if the nation continues to “ignore the real threats we face, America will inevitably suffer serious consequences,” Romney argued.

While Romney said he believes that President Biden is “a genuinely good man,” he claimed that Biden has been unable to “break through” the noise, and that the return of Trump to a position of power would only “feed the sickness.”


Congress, he added, is “particularly disappointing.”

“Too often, Washington demonstrates the maxim that for evil to thrive only requires good men to do nothing,” Romney wrote.

Romney has yet to decide whether he will run for reelection in 2024. But his name has been used as a moniker during the Republican primaries this year to deride candidates who stand opposed to the brand of MAGA politics championed by Trump. Romney has fiercely condemned the former president in the past — along with his colleagues who joined Trump’s efforts to overturn the election.

Romney was the lone Republican senator to vote to impeach Trump for abuse of power in 2020, and one of seven to do so again the following year for inciting the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, with Romney saying the former president summoned his supporters to Washington and to march “despite the obvious and well-known threats of violence that day.”

“Leadership must come from fathers and mothers, teachers and nurses, priests and rabbis, businessmen and businesswomen, journalists and pundits,” Romney wrote.

“That will require us all to rise above ourselves — above our grievances and resentments — and grasp the mantle of leadership our country so badly needs,” he concluded.

Shannon Larson can be reached at shannon.larson@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shannonlarson98.