Politics is not about big money or power games, it's about the improvement of people's lives.
-Paul Wellstone

If you haven't been watching back-to-back marathons of 24 since Friday, you've heard that Minnesota Senator, Paul Wellstone -- one of the last true liberal members of the Senate -- was tragically killed in a plane crash, along with his wife, Sheila, and daughter, Marcia.  Three other individuals working on Wellstone's 2002 Senate campaign, along with the two pilots of the ill-fated plane, were also killed in the crash.  A total of 8 people died in a matter of seconds.

Wellstone was not your average politician; he was actually a good man.  I've met him twice, and both times felt comfortable around him, and noticed that he genuinely took note of my concerns, rather than trying to pass off that, "oh-so-caring" look as he scoped the room for his next big campaign contribution.  I took issue with Wellstone signing the USA PATRIOT act, but, with possible exception made for that, he stuck to his guns and never traded in his ethics for a vote. 

The second time I met with Senator Paul Wellstone, I asked if I could take a picture with him.  As busy as he was, he kindly obliged, and I said, in reference to rumors being dropped that he would be running for President, "I'm going to put this in a frame, and let it age until I have a picture with the President of the United States."  Paul good-naturedly laughed over my comment, and said, "send me a copy of the photo, and I'll also put it in a frame, and maybe I'll be the one proudly displaying the picture I took with a future President."  Now, Paul's gone, and neither of those scenarios are a possibility.  With his death, went two dreams.   

How many other dreams went down with that plane?  What will a world be like without Senator Paul Wellstone?  Who could ever take his place?  Has the kinder, gentler America Paul worked so hard for vanished into a world of right-wing hatred, unjust invasions of foreign countries, corporate takeovers of everything that once made this land great, and talk-show scare-tactics attempting to get us all to shut the hell up about it?

Senator Wellstone never got to see his America come to fruition, but the fight is far from over.  As a reader eloquently put it in the Opinion section of the Minneapolis StarTribune; "We can have Sen. Wellstone's America if we keep voting for it."  Learn about your candidates, and get out there and vote this November 5th!  Don't let the dreams die. 

And now, a small sampling of Wellstone working to make those dreams a reality:

Senator Wellstone protesting
the Free Trade Summit.  Wellstone
fought hard for equitable salaries
for all working men and women,
not just the rich folk on the top.

Paul rallying against
Holiday Inn, Rivercentre,
when it decided not to hire
back its union employees
after it closed its doors for
 17 months to renovate.

 

Senator Wellstone went out on a limb for both patients and nurses;
the two groups of people screwed over the hardest by the American
Medical Industry.  Here he addresses the widespread nursing shortages
in the United States.

 

Paul Wellstone meets
with a couple of veterans to
discuss homelessness (Wellstone
was one of the last politicians
who didn't selectively "forget"
that there were homeless people
out there), and the many other
troubles Big Government leaves
America's heroes alone, without
any funding, to face.

One of the many times Senator
Paul Wellstone went in front
of the cameras to tell the big
drug companies to stick it
where the sun don't shine and
to start charging prices for
quality prescription drugs that
Americans can actually afford!

"Bush fears tenacious, popular Wellstone.  Let there be no doubt as to the identity of George W. Bush’s least favorite Democratic U.S. senator. It’s Wellstone, the rabble-rousing Progressive who represents not just Minnesota but what remains of the fighting populist spirit of the Upper Midwest. Minnesota is not the only state where the Bush camp is seeking to pick senators. But the level of involvement in the Wellstone race is remarkable. Coleman dropped a planned gubernatorial bid after two White House pressure sessions with Bush. And now that Coleman is leaning toward a Senate race, Bush, Cheney and Rove are pulling out all the stops to make sure they are in charge of the anti-Wellstone effort."
-The Capital Times, April 24, 2001

"I don't represent the big oil companies.  I don't represent the Enrons of this world.  But you know what?  They already have great representation in Washington.  It's the rest of the people that need it.  I represent the people of Minnesota."
-Paul Wellstone's statement made in his last political ad, which was to be released the day that his plane mysteriously crashed (Friday, October 25th, 2002).

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