Last Wednesday, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) shocked the world by standing up to President Trump. Of that, there’s no doubt. Unfortunately, we have grown accustomed to Republican Party members who support and defend their leader at any and all costs — either because they fear his fury, or because, as imperfect as he may be, the ends justify the means: They love what he is doing for the conservative cause. And so, for voting to convict Mr. Trump on one article of impeachment (abuse of power), I readily admit that Mr. Romney deserves much praise.
However, when the history books are written, we would do well to remember another name: Sen. Doug Jones. Just three years ago, Mr. Jones, a Democrat, did the improbable and won Alabama’s special Senate election. He is now up for re-election, and in one of the most conservative states in the nation, it is no surprise that he is facing an uphill battle. In spite of such circumstances, Mr. Jones voted to convict Mr. Trump on both articles of impeachment (abuse of power and obstruction of Congress).
In explaining his decision, Mr. Jones said, in part:
“I will vote to convict the President on both articles of impeachment. In doing so, I am mindful that in a democracy, there is nothing more sacred than the right to vote and respecting the will of the people. But I’m also mindful that when our founders wrote the Constitution, they envisioned a time, or at least a possibility, that our democracy would be more damaged if we failed to impeach and remove a president, such as the moment in history that we face today … I am mindful, Mr. President, that I am standing at a desk that once was used by John F. Kennedy, who famously wrote ‘Profiles in Courage,’ and there will be so many who will simply look at what I’m doing today and say it is a profile in courage. It is not. It is simply a matter of right and wrong. Doing right is not a courageous act. It is simply following your oath.”
After hearing those words from Mr. Jones, I immediately visited his campaign’s website and made a small donation. Because Mr. Jones showed he is tough. Because Mr. Jones showed he is unafraid. Because Mr. Jones showed he has integrity.
In this day and age, the type of courage displayed by Mr. Jones is a rarity. The fact is, too many elected officials seem to think that they must do whatever is necessary to keep their jobs; to them, doing the politically convenient thing is good enough because it means that they can continue to be in power. But that could not be more false. We are all mortals. We can all perish from this planet at any given second. Why not do what is right?
In 2018, Andrew Yang ’96 told The Herald, “Brown instilled in me a deep sense of both social responsibility and also possibility. … This confidence that I could make a difference and make great things happen if I was well-(intentioned) and committed, and willing to put my heart and soul into it.” Mr. Yang hit the nail right on the head. During my time at Brown, I took advantage of the open curriculum and enrolled in classes that piqued my interest, like Professor Evelyn Hu-Dehart’s “The Border/La Frontera” and Professor Wendy Schiller’s “The American Presidency.” Through them, I learned that becoming a true leader is a journey often riddled with trials and tribulations, but that speaking truth to power always matters in the long term.
Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions will likely be Mr. Jones’ foe this November. Between the two, Alabamans will have a choice to make: vote for Mr. Sessions, who Mr. Trump himself has called “an embarrassment to the great state of Alabama,” or vote for Mr. Jones, a man for the ages.
But, beyond just this November, there’s an important choice that we Brunonians will almost certainly have to make at some point in our lives. If we, too, are confronted with a Trump-like figure — whether in a professional environment or otherwise — do we follow the example set by Mr. Jones, or that by today’s Republican Party?
I pray it’s the former.
Walter García ’14 can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please send responses to this opinion to email@example.com and op-eds to