Thursday, October 27, 2011

RIP Howard Wolpe

I'm sure I voted for him, but I certainly don't remember it. In 1994, I was in a band, working in the coolest record store in the state, hanging out on the music scene, chasing a boy, and generally concerned with having an alcohol-fueled good time. Politics wasn't something that I gave more than a passing glance, except to make my way to the polls and be a Good Dog Democrat whenever I could. You can thank Ronald Reagan for that.

So, it brought a smile to read this from the story of Howard Wolpe's remarkable life in public service...

(Chief of staff Marda) Robillard said Wolpe did the right thing even if it wasn’t always the most popular choice.

An example was in 1986 when he authored sanctions legislation against South Africa’s apartheid government. President Ronald Reagan vetoed the bill, and Wolpe authored a bill to override the veto, which succeeded.

The two biggest employers in his district at the time, The Upjohn Co. in Kalamazoo and Kellogg Co. in Battle Creek, both had facilities in South Africa and were affected by the legislation, Robillard noted.

Until yesterday, I had forgotten that Wolpe ran for governor with Debbie Stabenow. And I was pleasantly surprised to see that Ken Brock was his campaign manager, as I would come to know Ken later from hanging with the Schauer crowd. Very nice guy.

Brock mentions that Wolpe was "frustrated with the level of partisanship in politics in Washington" in recent years, and it's interesting to note that both Stabenow and Dingell mention the word "civility" in their remembrances. Perhaps we all tend to look at the past through rose-colored glasses, but this comes up so often that it cements my theory that something has fundamentally shifted in this new age of obstruction at all costs. Sounds like Wolpe got out at the right time and went to work as an expert on issues concerning Africa, which was a life-long passion of his.

Go read his entire story. It's an introduction for those too young to know, a reminder for those like me who were otherwise preoccupied, and a remembrance for those who he served with honor.

Rest in peace Congressman, and thank you for you service.