Scott W. Patton and Cheryl Iacono
In a March 2016 speech, four years after his own presidential bid, Mitt Romney recalled a speech by another Republican leader. Ronald Reagan, he said, told America in 1964 that it was “a time for choosing” between two paths: “lifting people out of poverty and helping create opportunity for all,” or an “oppressive government that would lead America down a darker, less free path.” Today, Romney added, “I believe with all my heart and soul that we face another time for choosing, one that will have profound consequences for the Republican Party, and more importantly, for our country.”
What was Romney, now a senator from Utah, so worried about? Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy.
Sen. Romney, what path are you on now? The path of opportunity or the path of darkness? Your grandchildren are watching.
Voters know right from wrong
We’ve read the president’s famous transcript. It was not a “PERFECT PHONE CALL.” Highly educated suburban moms in New Albany and Delaware County, Ohio, have read the transcript. Independent-minded moderates from Wisconsin and Pennsylvania have also read the transcript. Service members and veterans from North Carolina, Texas and Virginia have read the transcript. Many have asked and answered: Was the president’s actions as it relates to Ukraine in our country’s best interest? Do the president’s actions put our diplomats and service members in a better position to carry out policy that is right for our republic?
Voters know right from wrong. We know how to differentiate abuse of power and election interference from legitimate and, most important, legal foreign policy carried out for the good of country.
The question playing out as the impeachment trial moves forward: Do members of the Senate, who have sworn an oath to the Constitution and a Senate oath on impeachment, know the difference between right and wrong? Will they serve party or country? Will they be partial or impartial jurors? History is waiting to record the Senate’s choice.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, spent a career working to restrict gay rights. In the end, he ultimately found himself on the right side of history only after his son announced that he was gay. Portman spoke about his change of heart when he said, “It allowed me to think of this issue from a new perspective, and that’s of a dad who loves his son a lot,” and “the overriding message of love and compassion that I take from the Bible, and certainly the Golden Rule” led to the change.
Sen. Portman, what path will you take? The path of compassion and the Golden Rule, or the path of lies and intimidation that Trump wields every day from his bully pulpit? Our children are watching.
Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., says on his website that “we have witnessed the emergence of an aggressive Russia with ambitions to undermine our longstanding alliances abroad.” He also says, “North Carolina is home to the third largest community of veterans and military retirees (and) some of America’s premier Army, Air Force and Marine Corps quick response forces.”
Do not become a Russian pawn
We have three family members who served in the quick response forces mentioned by Burr — Scott, his brother (and Cheryl’s son) Jerry Patton, and Jerry’s son (Cheryl’s grandson). We ask, does withholding congressionally approved military aid to a foreign ally engaged in combat with Russia strengthen or weaken our longstanding alliances? Does it help our national security? Does it make our war fighters forward deployed safer when working with our overseas allies?
Do not allow Trump or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to undermine your legacy of service to our military and veterans. Do not become a Russian pawn in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s desire to weaken our standing abroad. Do not be a negative force in our political domestic chaos caused by Trump’s illegal actions. Our forefathers, and those who have fallen to preserve our freedoms, are watching.
Three-quarters of Americans say new evidence and witness testimony should be heard at Trump’s trial. About half say Trump should be removed from office. This is not about Democrats hijacking Trump’s election, as argued by Trump’s enablers. It’s about the future of our democracy.
Sens. Romney, Portman and Burr, Susan Collins and Lamar Alexander and others, it is time for choosing. Will you uphold your oath to be an impartial juror or take the path of party loyalist? Which will you choose for history to record? The path of freedom, or the dark path of oppression?
Scott W. Patton is a combat veteran, real estate developer and moderate Democrat who lives in Columbus, Ohio. Cheryl Iacono, a political independent, is a Gold Star mother and a grandmother. Army Sgt. Maj. Jerry Patton, her son and Scott’s brother, deployed to Afghanistan twice and died on Oct. 15, 2008, in an accident while training to deploy there again.