Romney warns Republicans about Trump

In one of the most extraordinary and unprecedented opinion pieces in recent years, incoming U.S. senator and former Republican presidential nominee Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyA US-UK free trade agreement can hold the Kremlin to account Ex-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity Overnight Defense: US, Russia tensions grow over nuclear arms | Highlights from Esper's Asia trip | Trump strikes neutral tone on Hong Kong protests | General orders ethics review of special forces MORE (R-Utah) today wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post that excoriated President Donald Trump and warned Republicans and all Americans about the dangers presented by the Trump presidency.

Romney wrote, among many other things, the following sentence:

“I will speak out against significant statements or actions that are divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions.”

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Romney was not referring to Democratic leaders in Congress or to previous Democratic presidents or presidential nominees. He was referring to the highest-ranking Republican in America, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump watching 'very closely' as Portland braces for dueling protests WaPo calls Trump admin 'another threat' to endangered species Are Democrats turning Trump-like? MORE, and promising to speak out forcefully whenever the president crosses lines that American presidents should never cross.

“Divisive.” “Racist.” “Sexist.” “Anti-immigrant.” “Dishonest.” “Destructive to democratic institutions.”

Those are the words that Romney used, conveying the role he will seek to play when he may soon become the most important Republican senator.

Romney, writing about the need for American leadership of the alliance of democratic nations and the need for America to oppose dictatorships and defend human rights, also wrote this:

“In a 2016 Pew Research Center poll, 84 percent of people in Germany, Britain, France, Canada and Sweden believed the American president would ‘do the right thing in world affairs.' One year later, that number had fallen to 16 percent.”

Romney’s call to action against the wrongs he rightfully condemns follows the extraordinary resignation in protest of former Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOnly Donald Trump has a policy for Afghanistan New Pentagon report blames Trump troop withdrawal for ISIS surge in Iraq and Syria Mattis returns to board of General Dynamics MORE, who directly confronted policies and practices that attack and undermine America’s democratic allies and that praise or advance the interests of America’s dictatorial adversaries and enemies.

It will be fascinating to watch Romney play the role he promises to play in the Republican Senate. While he stated in his op-ed that he looks forward to working with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAre Democrats turning Trump-like? House Democrat calls for gun control: Cities can ban plastic straws but 'we can't ban assault weapons?' Churches are arming and training congregants in response to mass shootings: report MORE (R-Ky.), his presence will dramatically increase pressure on McConnell to take principled positions opposing Trump when necessary, which he has repeatedly refused to do.

Let's consider the role Romney could play in the government shutdown, of which Trump took ownership when he publicly stated he would be glad to shut down the government unless Congress agreed to support his ultimately doomed plan to build a wall on the Mexican border.

The wall proposal was built on the lie, obvious to everyone who knows anything about Mexico, that Mexico would pay for the wall. This was not true when Trump campaigned on it. It is not true today. It will never be true.

It is an outrage that Trump, the chief officer of the executive branch of government would force a shutdown because he wants Americans to pay for the wall he falsely promised Mexicans would pay for.

There is a deal to be had. I would support Democrats agreeing to increase funding for border security above their current proposal if — and only if — Trump agrees to include a full solution that would protect the Dreamers and an end to the cruel and unusual immigration policy of family separations.

In the midterm elections, Democrats won a decisive mandate from voters on immigration. Trump spent the closing weeks of the campaign aggressively trying to provoke fear and anger on the phony issue of the so-called caravan.

Day after day, week after week, Trump railed about the caravan, an issue he stopped railing about the day Democrats won a decisive victory to regain control of the House of Representatives. This is what a mandate looks like.

While Romney, warning in his op-ed against anti-immigrant rhetoric, did so in nonpartisan terms, Senate Republicans would be well-advised to heed his warning and follow his example.

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Otherwise, the likelihood is that Senate Republicans could experience in the 2020 elections what happened to House Republicans in the 2018 midterms, especially with so many Republican seats being contested then.

It is no coincidence that the prominent and respected Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderThe Hill's Morning Report - How will Trump be received in Dayton and El Paso? McConnell faces pressure to bring Senate back for gun legislation Criminal justice reform should extend to student financial aid MORE (R-Tenn.) has already announced his retirement, which is exactly what happened to House Republicans before the 2018 midterms.

In January 2018, I publicly predicted that then-Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanEmbattled Juul seeks allies in Washington Ex-Parkland students criticize Kellyanne Conway Latina leaders: 'It's a women's world more than anything' MORE (R-Wis.) would not run for reelection. It is now possible that Sen. McConnell and/or Sen. John CornynJohn CornynThe Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy O'Rourke says he will not 'in any scenario' run for Senate MORE (R-Texas) might similarly not seek reelection in 2020.

Romney could play a historic, invaluable role in the Senate, from immigration reform to defending special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony Kellyanne Conway: 'I'd like to know' if Mueller read his own report MORE, among a long list of issues.

Senate Republicans would be wise to heed the warning from Romney for the good of our country and their party.

Brent Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was chief deputy majority whip of the U.S. House of Representatives. He holds an LLM in international financial law from the London School of Economics.