Humphrey Era Lacked Acrimony Prominent In Today’s Politics

The 1960s and 70s were a different era for American politics. Alliances and friendships were formed across party lines in an effort to tackle some of the most pressing issues. Today bitterness and acrimony loom over the American political debate.

Those are the decades that former Minnesota Senator Hubert H. Humphrey did some of his most influential work. During an unveiling of a statue to honor the late senator, friends, trusted aids and political luminaries were on hand to celebrate his spirit.

As former Humphrey aid and district director Fred Gates puts it, “The Republicans don’t talk to the Democrats, the Democrats don’t talk to the Republicans. The Tea Party people talk to whomever they want. It’s a very sad, sad thing.”

Fred remembers when Humphrey visited a women’s shelter in Minneapolis. On their way back to Washington, he asked Gates to assemble their team to create a program to help single mothers-like the ones they visited in Minneapolis. A program, Fred recalls that will, “Nourish the mother and child.”

That program, which still exists today, is called WIC and it provides families with access to some of the basic food essentials-milk, bread and protein.

DFL and Republicans remember Hubert H. Humphrey as the, “Happy Warrior.”

Always energetic about politics, working long hours on behalf of some the nation’s most pressing causes: civil rights and poverty were among the many Humphrey tackled. Visitors to the state capitol can finally pay their respects to the late senator.

Political luminaries such as former President Bill Clinton, Senator’s Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar and Vice President Walter Mondale all spoke of the late senator’s passion for living and for politics.

As Humphrey spent his last days at Waverly in Minnesota, Fred remembers they took a call from then President Jimmy Carter. The former President asked for Humphrey’s support in getting the Panama Canal treaty passed-he needed Humphrey to talk to ones of America’s most conservative politicians-Barry Goldwater

“With all due respect Mr. President, I’m dying. I’m not sure what I can do for you,” Gates recalls Humphrey telling Carter. Eventually, Humphrey had Gates get Goldwater on the phone and the treaty passed.

Gates recalls Goldwater saying, “I’ll do it for you Hubert.”

During the dedication, former President Bill Clinton, Senators Klobuchar and Franken and former Vice President Walter Mondale reminded audiences that Humphrey would be working to defeat both of Minnesota’s constitutional amendments-the marriage restriction amendment and the voter restriction amendment. Both amendments had no bipartisan support-something many in the crowd saw when Humphrey was in office.

Allison Herrera

Allison Herrera, originally from San Luis Obispo, Calif.,  studied media and Spanish at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., where she earned her bachelor s. Since moving to the Twin Cities, she has been a news producer for KFAI Fresh Air Community Radio, communications coordinator for Twin Cities Public Television's arts series MN Original, and producer for the Association of Minnesota Public and Educational Radios Stations for the series MN90: Minnesota History in 90 Seconds.

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