“Do what is right; let the consequence follow.”
Hymn 237, Church of the Latter Day Saints
Dear Sen. Romney,
As the lone Republican who made history voting to convict Donald Trump at his Senate impeachment trial, you can make history again sir, by calling for Mr. Trump’s removal as president. But this is about more than history; it’s about saving lives and beginning to repair the moral fabric of our country.
While many Republican senators—and other party leaders—privately agreed with your vote of conscience, none has yet spoken out despite Mr. Trump’s deepening mental instability. This is the moment to urge them to find their voices.
Use your moral authority and national platform Senator, to call for invoking the 25th Amendment or for the president to resign. Consider meeting with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the most authoritative and trusted voice on the White House Coronavirus Task Force. While not a mental health professional, he has been observing Mr. Trump throughout the pandemic and would no doubt have keen insights.
Citizens across the country are so disturbed by Mr. Trump’s dangerous handling of the pandemic that they are desperate to replace him. I implore you: draw on the same reservoir of ethical courage you employed when you explained your vote to convict the president.
[M]y promise before God to apply impartial justice required that I put my personal feelings and biases aside. Were I to ignore the evidence… and disregard what I believe my oath and the Constitution demands of me… it would I fear, expose my character to history’s rebuke and the censure of my own conscience…With my vote I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty to the best of my ability.
The stakes were high at the trial in February; they are hundreds of times higher today. Mr. Trump’s behavior is not just erratic, and his handling of the crisis is not just incompetent; he is an unstable emperor with no clothes. Remember how for weeks he refused to take the coronavirus seriously—downplaying it as a “hoax.” His fiddling while the virus burned through the country is likely responsible for the needless deaths of untold numbers of people. Now he is again recklessly agitating to “reopen the country” despite a paucity of testing to determine who is positive for COVID-19. (And he is tacitly endorsing his supporters’ dangerous rallies where they are ignoring the very social distancing guidelines that bear his name.)
In its recently issued prescription for survival, the World Mental Health Coalition declared that Mr. Trump is “so severely mentally troubled that he is a great danger to our nation,” urging several calls to action, including removal from office. At the very least, Senator, it advocates that he no longer lead the White House response to the pandemic. The organization believes he “is making a global pandemic worse—not just through failure and ignorance, but through a dangerous detachment from reality” and “a need to convey false information.”
People keep asking, What’s it going to take for the public to realize that he is unwell? wrote Dr. Bandy X. Lee, a forensic psychiatrist at Yale School of Medicine in a recent article for Euronews. “The problem is, the sicker he becomes, those under his influence will see it less as a problem—and this has been the trend.”
Sen. Romney, just as physical viruses can spread, so can mental ones. “Whether we know it or not—or, all the more so if we refuse to consider it—,” says Dr. Lee, “we may be facing a… situation in the United States with mental health. While we make many false distinctions between physical and mental illness, none is perhaps as consequential as the denial that mental symptoms can spread.”
I know urging you to call for removing the president is a Hail Mary pass. But I keep thinking about what Sen. John McCain would be doing if he was still alive. Sen. Romney, you demonstrated to the nation that you have a highly sensitive moral compass. Let it guide you today. Our country needs it. Too many lives hang in the balance to stay silent. Please speak out, now.
Rob Okun (firstname.lastname@example.org), syndicated by PeaceVoice, is editor of Voice Male magazine. and of the anthology, VOICE MALE: The Untold Story of the Profeminist Men’s Movement. On the recommendation in 2005 of the Governor’s Council, then-Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney appointed Okun a justice of the peace.