FILE – In this Jan. 19, 2018, file photo, former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney waves after speaking about the tech sector during an industry conference, in Salt Lake City. Romney plans to announce Utah Senate campaign Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. Three people with direct knowledge of the plan say Romney will formally launch his campaign in a video. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File).

Senator Mitt Romney started the year off with a bang, much to the chagrin of the tribalist swamp dwellers in Washington, D.C.

In his op-ed for The Washington Post, the senator correctly states that President Trump’s character falls deplorably short as leader of our nation. While sharing his concerns, he also praises some of the Trump administration policies and appointments.  This measured approach is the only way to go about reacting to any presidency, Republican or Democrat.

…policies and appointments are only a part of a presidency.

Of course, Romney is not wrong, but that didn’t stop the MAGA hate from erupting. I’m not sure if the uncritical supporters of the president don’t know of his indecency and penchant for anger or just don’t care. Neither conclusion is comforting.

There has been much written about the timing of Romney’s post or why the same man who sought President Trump’s favor, albeit briefly, has now publicly condemned him. These are questions worth asking. However, these lingering curiosities do not negate the senator’s statements. He was, and remains, quite accurate in his assessment of the 45th president.

One of the many individuals to take issue with Senator Romney is none other than Republican colleague Senator David Perdue of Georgia. In his rebuttal op-ed at The Washington Post, published on Friday, Perdue acts like a wounded fan whose idol had been ridiculed. Unfortunately, Senator Perdue quite obviously places party over principle.

With his attempted character assassination of the president, a fellow Republican, Romney put self-interest ahead of the larger national interest: conservative Republican governance. The op-ed brought to mind 2012, when many Republicans chose to divide the party by continually bashing each other. Romney eventually discovered that many discouraged GOP voters decided to stay home on Election Day.

Like others who have run for president and failed, Romney has taken a stance that smacks of jealousy and resentment. It does nothing but serve the radical liberal left and further divides conservatives.

Perdue misses the mark almost immediately by calling Romney’s op-ed an “attempted character assassination.” But there is nothing in Mitt Romney’s piece that is incorrect. In fact, he counters the more damaging, disastrous parts of the president’s behavior and personality by listing some political successes. As he rightly concludes, the presidency isn’t just about one thing. On the other hand, Perdue reacts to criticism as wholly bad and nothing that a fellow Republican should engage in. By doing so, he gives readers a great example of why the Republican deserves to learn some painful lessons.

The senator from Georgia seems to think that further dividing conservatives away from Trumpism is a bad thing. In fact, the opposite is true.

If this “further division” causes some to look distastefully at Trumpism, then I applaud it. If this “further division” spurs (actual) conservatives to stand against poisonous rhetoric that is too easily dismissed, then it should be praised.

There is nothing admirable about uniting behind a leader, placing a blindfold on, and marching in lockstep because of a romanticized duty to party. It removes all thought and common sense from the process and asks that we disregard substance in favor of the superficial. Then again, that’s what many Republican voters did on November 8, 2016.

As I’ve done in the past two years, I’ll praise the good and condemn the bad that emanates from both the man and his administration. There is some of the former and plenty of the latter. I’ll continue on as before no matter the partisan mockery sent my way by either side.

So, too will Senator Romney, as he so clearly stated in his New Year’s Day piece.

…I will act as I would with any president, in or out of my party: I will support policies that I believe are in the best interest of the country and my state, and oppose those that are not. I do not intend to comment on every tweet or fault. But I will speak out against significant statements or actions that are divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions.

Unlike Perdue and many others in the GOP, Romney refuses to “get in line” because dear leader and his comrades demand it.

I hope that someday, the Republican Party will return to its conservative roots both in word and deed, make room for criticism yet again, and work to improve. It desperately needs an overhaul.

Until that day comes, I welcome the increased division that pits the concerned conservatives against the Trumpified Right.

There is no growth without some measure of pain and this is both necessary and acute.

Kimberly Ross is a senior contributor at RedState and a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.