On this day, January 13, 1978, 44 years ago, my original political hero, Senator, Vice President, and Presidential nominee Hubert H. Humphrey passed away from cancer at the young age of 66.
When I was young, Humphrey became my political hero, with his strong liberal championship of views on civil rights, and introducing many ideas that became part of Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society in the mid 1960s.
Not well utliized by Johnson, Humphrey became the nominee of the Democratic Party for the Presidency in 1968, a divided party that had elements rallying around Senator Robert F. Kennedy before his tragic assassination, and also those who backed fellow Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy.
In a three way Presidential race, Humphrey would fall short, losing to Richard Nixon, and with George Wallace being a strong third party candidate.
Humphrey, who had been Mayor of Minneapolis, and then a US Senator from 1949-1965, returned to the Senate in 1971, replacing the retiring Senator McCarthy, and competed unsuccessfully for the Presidential nomination in 1972, and remained a major figure until his untimely death in 1978.
This author and blogger literally wept when Humphrey died, as I was drawn to his humanity, empathy, decency, and compassion.
And once he passed away, I looked around the US Senate for a successor leader I could believe in, and found the young Delaware Senator Joe Biden, still in his first term at age 35.
I feel fortunate that although there were many barriers to Joe Biden’s advancement to the Presidency, that after serving in the Senate for 36 years, and as Vice President under Barack Obama for eight years, that four years later, on his third try for the Oval Office, Biden finally won, and saved the nation from the menace of Donald Trump.
Neither Humphrey nor Biden were or are perfect, no such situation exists, but the two men shared characteristics that caused me to fall in love with them as political leaders.
I am sure that Humphrey would be very proud of Joe Biden, and the two men stand out as uncommonly models of leadership!