For a bracing antidote to the current cynicism about our ability to solve problems with our own democracy, mark your calendars and reserve your spot for May 27 and particpate in an all-day commemoration of the life of Minnesota's own immortal Hubert H. Humphrey (details at bottom of post).
That date will mark the 100th anniversary of the birthday of "The Happy Warrior," as he frequently was called. An enriching and rather cerebral celebration is being planned at Minneapolis City Hall. That's where Humphrey began his political career, as mayor, more than 60 years ago. The agenda is policy-centered and forward-looking with breakouts for discussions on future directions for progressive policy.
Humphrey, who became vice-president in the 1960s and who came within a whisker of the presidency himself, should forever be a point of pride for all Minnesotans. He was so beloved by friend and foe that he lay in state in the national Capitol Rotunda on his death. And in hindsight his legacy can be apprecated by citizens of all political hues, not just his liberal admirers. Humphrey improved our Twin Cities and our nation and our world -- starting with his battles against rank corruption and anti-Semitism in Minneapolis, continuing with his epochal co-leadership of the Civil Rights movement in the U.S. Senate, his steadfast Cold War resolve against brutal communist dictatorships, and his seminal roles in initiatives ranging from Medicare, to the Peace Corps, to workplace safety and the Occupational Safety and Health Act. (An authoritative and balanced mini-biography, one of the better treatments I've seen, is on the official U.S. Senate website.) Conservative think-tanker Mitch Pearlstein and I wrote about parallels between Humphrey and Ronald Reagan (whose birthday centennial also occurs this year) in the Star Tribune a couple months ago.
Humphrey until his death from cancer in 1978 absolutely defined the role of the optimistic, practical and constructive political leader. These are the qualities we want to develop not only in our elected officials, but ourselves.
P.S. Opening soon will be a website, www.humphreycenntennial.org for registration and if you can't wait, reserve by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Participants will be asked to provide, names (first & last), e-mail addresses, phone numbers and street address. Checks should be written to "Humphrey Centennial" and snail mail address is Humphrey Centennial, 1600 University Avenue W., Suite 309B, Saint Paul, MN 55104. Registering guests will be asked to name their top 3 discussion group issues from a list of: The Future of American Workers; Citizens in Politics; U.S. in the World; Jobs; Family Farms; Energy; Health & Aging; Learning & Information; 21st Century Governing; Liberty & Equality; News & Privacy. Another option is to contact one of two organizers, Diane O'Brien, email@example.com (651-261-4173) or Bob Meek, firstname.lastname@example.org, (651-239-7820). Also, check out Facebook for Hubert H. Humphrey Birthday Centennial Reunion & Policy Discussions, http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=314995135445.