Senator Paul Wellstone, fast paced

There is lots of global politics in the state of Minnesota and, of course, in the US Senate.  But I’m posting this 1990 campaign ad for no other reason that I’m a proud Minnesotan.

Our Senator died on October 25, 2002 in a plane crash in Eveleth, northern Minnesota. The other victims were his wife,  Sheila Wellstone (women’s rights advocate), his daughter Marcia, pilots Richard Conry and Michael Guess, University of Minnesota student Will McLaughlin, and campaign staffers Tom Lapic and Mary McEvoy.

Along with 20,000 other Minnesotans I attended Paul’s memorial service at the University of Minnesota Williams Arena in 2002.  Minnesota DFL-ers* mourned alongside Bill Clinton, Jesse Jackson, Tom Harkin, Al Gore, and many others. Also there: Then Minnesota Governor Jesse “The Body” Ventura. (Apparently, the White House offered to send Dick Cheney but the Wellstone family declined).

This memorial service took place just a few days before the November Senate elections.  It was characterized by the call-and-response oral traditions of labor and grassroots organizers.  As a result, the service and particularly a eulogy by Rick Kahn (who repeated the phrase “For Paul” as a rallying cry) was immediately criticized by Republicans.

(I saw Norm Coleman talk to a local news team reading a preprepared statement about how Democrats had “co-opted” the memorial service for “partisan gain” just moments after the service ended. Draw your own conclusions.)

I didn’t agree with Paul Wellstone on every vote or policy. But I have a lot to learn from him and his family.  These people taught me what politics should be about. We miss them.

“Politics is about the improvement of people’s lives. It’s about advancing the cause of peace and justice in our country and the world. Politics is about doing well for the people.” — Paul Wellstone.

*Due to our progressive history, Minnesota’s Democratic Party affiliate is actually the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. Supporters are known as DFL-ers.

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