I wanted to follow up on my previous column, for those who missed it. I gave my viewpoint on the turbulent 2016 election cycle. I also want to dedicate this column to a longtime good friend of mine. A couple of weeks ago, I received a phone call from Greenfield Police Department Lt. Matt Holland, who informed me that John Patton had passed. Those of you who knew John knew that he personified the word “conservative.”
I first met John several years ago. I remember the meeting quite well. It was a cold fall evening at the Greenfield Riley Festival. It was my turn to work a shift at the Republican booth. Former Hancock County prosecutor and Hancock County Republican chairman Michael Griffin introduced us. John had recently moved to Greenfield. John and I instantly struck up a friendship.
John was like a brother to me. I guess that you could say we were sort of like David and Johnathan of Old Testament fame. Not that John or I were royal, nor saintly. We just developed a close “kinship.”
So why was John the epitome of conservatism? Well, first of all we need to look at what conservatism is. Some have said that conservatism is a derivative term: it refers to something outside itself. One must go back to the founding of our republic to fully understand the true meaning of this word. Regardless of the revisionist historians, the country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles.
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John and I often exchanged books, mostly of the political nature. I am saddened knowing the fact that I will not be able to share with him the current book I am reading, “What would the founders say?” by Larry Schweikart. I know John would have enjoyed reading the book.
A similar book John and I discussed was former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’s book, “Keeping the Republic.” John and I attended many meetings with the former governor. The intent of this article is not to rehash John’s life in politics. He was, however, a Republican precinct committeeman, and twice-elected member of the Greenfield City Council.
My friend, John Patton, and I worked on several campaigns to get conservatives elected to political office. John was my confidant and a person I could bounce ideas off of. We had some lively political debates. I loved the line that Greenfield Mayor Chuck Fewell said at John’s funeral, in describing “Mr. Conservative.”
He mentioned John’s car, a 1978 Mercury Marquis. The Mayor quipped something to the effect that he and John were in the Mayor’s car. John thought the Mayor should upgrade to a newer vehicle. The irony there is that His Honor’s car was about twenty years newer than John’s. But the car John owned exhibited the kind of class that he exemplified. Also, I think that it exhibited John’s conservatism. After all, why buy a newer car when his fit his needs?
Conservatism not only personified John Patton, but in my opinion it is what this republic needs. We have just seen the greatest, and in my opinion, biggest “upheaval” in American History. The administration that is leaving Washington, D.C., had one goal in mind. They set out to deliberately take away our fundamental rights, guaranteed by our constitution. Thomas Jefferson first penned the now famous words: man is entitled to the right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
I believe that my friend, and co-director of the Hancock County Character Council lived his life according to this creed.
C.O. Montgomery of New Palestine is a former teacher and Sugar Creek Township trustee. Send comments to dr-editorial@greenfield reporter.com.