I was 11 years old when I first heard my father’s speech, A Time For Choosing. Unbeknownst to me, he had been perfecting it out on the road when he was a spokesperson for General Electric. He was out there to promote a bright electrical future. But America’s future was what he spoke about instead.

The night I first heard what would come to be called The Speech we were in Phoenix, Arizona where my grandparents lived, and an event for Barry Goldwater was being held in a school auditorium. There were adults and kids in Goldwater hats and my father was the featured speaker. Most of the speech was about the dangers of socialism and how big government was eroding our freedom as Americans. I’d heard much of this around the dinner table; I didn’t really understand it and wasn’t particularly interested. Like I said, I was 11. But then my father got to the last paragraph of the speech, and I felt chills go up my spine. There were two reasons for this. One was, I knew without a doubt that our lives were about to change. Whatever happened with Barry Goldwater’s bid for the presidency, my father was no longer going to be an actor, he was headed into politics. The second reason for my chills was that he spoke about the fragility of America, something that had never occurred to me.

“You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done.”

I had, of course, learned about the Constitution in school. I thought it was an eternally unfrayed rope that would hold this country above turmoil and unexpected floods of civil dissent. I thought of America as unique in the world. Because our Founding Fathers had created for us an exquisitely balanced form of government, we would never be a country that would fall to a dictator, a country where laws were whatever that dictator said they were. Yet my father was saying that a shiny destiny for America was not a given. We could fail, we could plunge into darkness.

I thought about his words yesterday when the United States Senate voted to close out the impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump without calling any witnesses or bringing in any documents. This after the senators who openly and publicly said they were not impartial took a solemn oath to be impartial. Senators who lied under oath. I thought about the heartbreaking truth that our country – what my father called “the last best hope of man on earth” – will never be the same.

No matter what you feel about whether or not Donald Trump should be removed from office, if you are not grieving over what happened yesterday,  you need to read the Constitution again and understand that a sham trial with no witnesses, no first hand testimony, is not what the Founding fathers had in mind.

All of us are here on this earth for only a short time. It is, or should be, important that we justify our time here, that we are able to say to future generations that we did all we could to preserve the principles of honor and fairness. My father spoke of a thousand years of darkness. Yesterday, the United States Senate took the first step into a dark future for America.


  1. It was a disgrace to our Constitution and to our Democracy. There is no real democracy if we cannot hold an honest true impeachment with witnesses. This is a dictatorship pure and simple. My father, one of the Founders of the Los Angeles Chapter of the ACLU, would be rolling over in his grave at this travesty of justice. It’s shameful and scary. I’m shocked on many levels at those senators that they are allowing this among other things. The inhumane treatment of our immigrants, denial of climate change, lack of fair healthcare, etc. The list could go on and on. My hope is that despite what happened in this shame of an impeachment, that the American people will rise up and do the right thing by voting on election day to get our Democracy back! This election is too important!

  2. Richard S Hardy says:

    Patti davis.you are very pretty.great writer.you still look the same as you looked in 1979.

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