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The last good liberal Democrat

By Bruce Walker
web posted October 15, 2001

On March 5th of this year, our ever gracious editor published my article "Restoring Honor to Democrats: President Bush's Most Vital Task" in which I noted that our good President had reappointed George McGovern, who is wrong on every issue but wrong with a clear conscience, to continue his role in the United Nations Food Administration.

Surely the saddest legacy of Clinton and his gang is the utter corruption of a political party born and raise amidst the corruption of Ku Klux Krats of the Solid South, big city machines, violent labor unions, et al. The white bread image of Republicans merely reflected a serious attitude towards ethical government.

October 5th America lost perhaps the last great, good, liberal Democrat. Mike Mansfield served as Majority Leader of the United States Senate longer than any person in American history. He was a robust advocate of all the wrong ideas, particularly regarding Communism in Asia.

President John F. Kennedy and Mansfield in 1961
President John F. Kennedy and Mansfield in 1961

But Senator Mansfield, had earned the right to his opinions. He joined the Navy during the First World War when only fourteen years old, and later served his country as a Marine and as a soldier in the United States Army. And he taught Far Eastern History at college when colleges actually educated. Conservatives have never had trouble with men like Mike Mansfield, only with their errors.

Mansfield was orphaned young and raised in a particularly poor, rough, and isolated part of flyover country. He had every reason in the world to rail against American society, every modern excuse to become a drug addict or a drug dealer, every reason to do nothing good with his life.

Instead, he became an excellent scholar, a good husband, and the last great liberal Democrat to serve in American government. While Senator McGovern acted from conscience - he flew a B-17 over Germany when that was very dangerous work, and he practiced personal charity to the hungry families of the Depression - the good Senator from South Dakota also manifested a bit of nasally articulated moral piety. He was not a hypocrite, but he always manifested a tad of intolerance of conservatives.

Not so with the gentleman from Montana. He led the Senate by a genuine interest in the thoughts of others and a personal warmth that disarms bitterness. Mike Mansfield led the Democrat Party. He was the most important Democrat during the Nixon years, and while he could have reveled in ugly triumphant, there was never the slightest sense of that about him.

The gentleman from Montana resembles most of all our current President, whose attention to people as people is renown, and resembled closely President Reagan - another Irish charmer whose charm came from true unadulterated decency. America needs more politicians of all stripes like Mike Mansfield, but that sort of sappy statement masks the greater truth.

The Democrat Party, which could not muster a single serious candidate to challenge the horrid legacy of Clinton-Gore on moral grounds, needs a thorough scrubbing and years of re-learning why Americans once trusted some Democrats. Moreover, liberal Democrats, who made a full time profession of lying about Clinton's awful policy and ethical flaws, are utterly without purpose beyond an almost sexual lust for power.

Mike Mansfield was a liberal Democrat who had power, wielded power, but never placed power alone above the reasons for seeking power. He left big shoes to fill, and so far the Democrats have chosen to fill his position with retired middling leaders of the Ku Klux Klan or creepy characters like Tom Daschle, who probably is not trusted by even his pet dog. America will miss you Mike. You were wrong about everything except trying every day to be good. That will be plenty to get you into a blessed hereafter. Farewell.

Bruce Walker is a senior writer with Enter Stage Right. He is also a frequent contributor to The Pragmatist and The Common Conservative.

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