Use your vote wisely:
a lesson from Minnesota
By Andy Brack
S.C. Statehouse Report
NOV. 3, 2002 - - Every now and then, something happens far away
that gets your attention. Instead of forgetting it after a couple
of days, it keeps rolling around in your head.
A few days ago, U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash.
You may not think the death of a liberal Minnesota firebrand has
lessons for everyone in South Carolina, but it does.
The one clear message that repeatedly appeared in print and sound
following Wellstone's death was how much Republicans and Democrats
respected the spunky fighter. They remembered how, above all else,
he doggedly stuck to his fight for the little guy. Republican and
Democrat, they might not often have agreed with him. But they admired
his perseverance, zeal and commitment for remaining true to his
In a Washington where consistency and honor is as common as ice
cubes on beaches, they recognized his consistency and honor. And
they roundly agreed the Senate needed more Paul Wellstones, more
people with passion to fight for what they believed in.
His remarks often recalled the words of Robert F. Kennedy. On the
Senate floor, at rallies and in small gatherings, Wellstone argued
time and again that the nation's leaders need to stop bickering
and work together to do better for the people in our country.
"We should not focus just on how to grow our economy, but
we should focus on how we can grow the quality of our lives, and
how we can grow the quality of our life as a nation," he told
graduates of Swarthmore College in 1998. "We must foster a
new atmosphere where values become sensitive to public policy. And
we must build a nation, a community where no person, no neighborhood,
and no community feels left behind."
For Wellstone, politics wasn't a game. It was a vehicle for citizens
to use to create a world they dared to imagine - - a world of opportunity
where all Americans got a shot at the American dream.
Here's where his legacy leaves a lesson for all of us: on Tuesday,
South Carolinians have a responsibility to elect leaders who imagine
a world of opportunity for her children.
Instead of gauging politicians on soundbites, partisan politics
or TV ads, voters should do their homework and find candidates they
believe will do the best job for South Carolina. They should support
candidates - - regardless of political party - - who dare to imagine
what is possible. If these candidates can imagine it, they can help
bring people together to achieve it.
Wellstone's death reminds South Carolinians that the best man or
woman for a job may be someone of a different political party, race
or sex - - someone we normally wouldn't even think voting for. But
Wellstone's legacy is for us to consider the person and ideals based
on what's best for the state.
As Wellstone told those young Swarthmore graduates, we create politics
to help us achieve our dreams.
"The future will belong to those who have passion, and to
those who are willing to make the personal commitment to make our
country better. The future will belong to those who believe in the
beauty of their dreams," he said.
On Tuesday, use your vote wisely. That's what Paul Wellstone taught
Paul Wellstone, 1944-2002. Rest in peace.