News of the death of former Massachusetts Republican Senator Edward Brooke (1967-1979) yesterday, marks the end of the group of moderate progressive Republican Senators of the 1960s and 1970s, who worked with Democrats across the aisle, and made the Republican Party a mainstream party with a conservative majority, but reputable and dignified moderate progressives who added distinction to the party’s history.
Brooke, the first popularly elected African American Senator in American history, served two terms of distinction, and promoted civil rights, the legalization of abortion, closer relations with China, and opposed Richard Nixon much of the time on his Supreme Court appointments and on the Watergate scandal. He worked to promote aid to the poor and to the cities of the country, and spoke up for the end of the Vietnam War.
Brooke was one of a small, admirable group of Republicans, no longer found on Capitol Hill, where the word “moderate” or “progressive” is now a dirty word. It was easy to praise Brooke, along with Maryland Senator Charles Mathias, Illinois Senator Charles Percy, and Oregon Senator Mark Hatfield, who all added greatly to the distinction of the Senate!
Will the Republican Party ever have men of the distinction of these four Senators, and others who started earlier in the Senate, including Jacob Javits of New York, and Clifford Case of New Jersey? Right now, that seems highly unlikely, as the Senators mentioned above would be called RINOS (Republicans In Name Only) by the present mentality in the Republican Party!