A Very Sad Day For America
The United States lost a really good guy today. Paul Wellstone, his wife Sheila, his daughter Marcia, three campaign workers, and two pilots died today in a plane crash in Minnesota.
There are very few politicians willing to take unpopular stands, even if it means losing their jobs; there are very few politicians willing to vote against big money and on behalf of the little guy every time; and there are very few politicians with the courage to speak their minds in the face of overwhelming opposition. Paul Wellstone was one of those few.
The son of Russian immigrants, Paul Wellstone grew up in Arlington VA and was a star wrestler at the University of North Carolina (where he went undefeated and won the 1964 ACC Championship at 124 lbs). Wellstone taught for 21 years at Carleton College in Northfield Minnesota (on the short list of where I'd want my son to go to school). While teaching, he was tireless in his efforts at community organizing and political activism. In 1990, Wellstone got pissed off enough at the incumbent Senator, Rudy Boschwitz, to run against him. His campaign was short on money but long on spirit, and, to the surprise of everyone in politics, he won.
During his 12 years in the Senate, Wellstone was known as the guy most likely to be on the wrong end of a 99-1 vote, as he wasn't likely to change his position just because it was unpopular. His support of veterans, of public education, and of the rights of workers was second to none. He was on the good side of almost every political battle you can name.
More than the sum of his parts, Paul Wellstone was a fundamentally good guy. We need more like him, and he'll be missed.
You can buy Wellstone's book here.