"No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is worse than you imagine." - - - William Blum

January 13, 2006

Hubert Horatio Humphrey

On this date in 1978 Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, Vice President under Lyndon B. Johnson, died at 66. He was a champion of progressive causes:

After graduating magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota in 1939 and receiving a masters degree from Louisiana State University in 1940, Hubert Humphrey embarked on a career in Minnesota politics. Narrowly losing the 1943 race for mayor of Minneapolis, Humphrey turned to party activism and was instrumental in the merger of the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party in 1944. Leading this coalition, he was elected mayor of Minneapolis in 1945 and reelected in 1947.

In 1948, he was elected United States Senator; he would win reelection in 1954 and 1960. His first legislative proposal was for senior citizen health care, a vision that would eventually become Medicare.

During his career he would also introduce legislation to create the Peace Corps and would be instrumental in passing the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Losing a 1960 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, Humphrey was later selected as President Lyndon Johnson's Vice-Presidential running mate and won that office in 1964.

Though initially opposed to United States involvement in Vietnam, he would come to support Johnson's Vietnam policy and undertook several foreign trips to elucidate this position internationally. It is widely believed that this change of position contributed to Humphrey's narrow loss to Richard Nixon in the 1968 Presidential election.

He returned to the Senate in 1970 and unsuccessfully sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972. He was reelected to the Senate in 1976, but passed away during his term in office. The remaining years of his term were served by his wife, Muriel.

Here are a few of his more memorable quotes:

"In this time of national crises...perhaps we would do well to spend a few minutes in considering projects which grace and embellish the earth, instead of shaking it." 1962

"This is the first generation in all of recorded history that can do something about the scourge of poverty. We have the means to do it. We can banish hunger from the face of the earth." 1965

"I am not here to judge whether people are locked in poverty because of themselves or because of the society in which they live. All I know is that they are there and we are trying to do something about it." 1966

"The moral test of a government is how it treats those who are at the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those who are in the shadow of life, the sick, the needy, and the handicapped." 1976

"The message of the United States is not nuclear power. The message of the United States is a spiritual message. It is the message of human ideals; it is the message of human dignity; it is the message of the freedom of ideas, speech, press, the right to assemble, to worship, and the message of freedom of movement of people." 1977

"There is no such thing as an acceptable level of unemployment, because hunger is not acceptable, poverty is not acceptable, poor health is not acceptable, and a ruined life is not acceptable."

"The gap between the rich and the poor is the most dangerous threat to world peace we have."

"Peace is not passive, it is active. Peace is not appeasement, it is strength. Peace does happen. It requires work."

"You can always debate about what you should have done. The question is what are you going to do?"

(Inspired by this posting.)

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