Republican Sen. Mitt Romney got a preview of the tenor of the Trump-fueled rally that’s set to take place Wednesday in Washington when he was confronted, cellphone cameras out, by Trump supporters while traveling Tuesday from Salt Lake City back to the Capitol for the Electoral College certification. Romney, the party’s most recent pre-Trump presidential nominee, has been one of the few critics—and voices of reason—among his elected Republican colleagues, which has made him a target for outrage with Donald Trump’s most undying, unblinking supporters.
While waiting for his flight at the Salt Lake City airport, Romney, who was sitting alone reading on a tablet, was confronted by a maskless Trump supporter. Romney can be heard asking the woman to put her mask on as she approached, to which she responded: “Don’t tell me what to do.” “Why aren’t you supporting President Trump?” she demanded. “I do support the things President Trump does that I agree with,” Romney responded. “You’re not supporting him,” she countered. “Are you going to support him in the fraudulent vote …” she asked trailing off. Romney told her he would not support overturning the November election, citing the Constitution.
The woman went on to inform Romney that he works for her and the conservatives that put him in office. “I work for the people of Utah,” Romney replied, “and you’re not the only one.” He then packed his bag and stood up to walk away. “They didn’t want you in there anyways, so, to be honest with you, I wouldn’t be surprised if you weren’t even voted in legally,” the woman said as a parting shot.
Another Trump supporter arrived to join the deep constitutional debate, informing Romney that he would be primaried. “Oh trust me, you’re getting primaried, buddy,” the man said. “That’s just fine. Of course I’ll be primaried, that’s totally appropriate.” Romney replied. “You admit it, you know it, you know it’s coming,” the man said. “I was primaried last time and I’m happy to be primaried again,” Romney responded. “Trump is a juggernaut,” the man said as Romney walked away through the terminal. “Your legacy is nothing.”
The harassment continued once Romney had boarded his Delta flight to D.C. with a cohort of passengers chanting: “Traitor! Traitor! Traitor!”
The Trump supporters are angry, though they’re not fuming about losing because that requires some acknowledgment of personal agency and participation in a process that is not yours alone to control. Instead, fomented by Trump, they’re irate something had been stolen from them—taken—which requires no personal responsibility nor acknowledgment of any worldview outside of your own. Losing hurts, it requires some degree of self-awareness and introspection; getting robbed elicits a whole different set of emotions. That emotionality can be freeing, allowing the ends (keeping Trump in power) to justify the (democracy-obliterating, possibly violent) means.