Senator Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash with his wife, daughter, and five others on October 25, 2002. He was a Jeffersonian and often described himself as a "small 'd' democrat." He was a reformer who made a priority of promoting broad participation in the political process. Perhaps his most famous quote speaks to his vision for the quality of politics he worked for.
"Politics is not about power. Politics is not about money. Politics is not about winning for the sake of winning. Politics is about the improvement of people's lives."
FairVote Minnesota's vision for a better democracy could be expressed in just this way. Though the movement for better voting systems did not mature during Wellstone's time, we count him as a sympathetic voice who, now fallen, will be missed.
Rob Richie, executive director of the Washington DC-based Center for Voting and Democracy, shared the following story with us:
"In 1992, Sen. Wellstone backed Tom Harkin's bid for the presidency. Cindy Terrell was coordinator of the Harkin campaign in Maine and spent a long day with Sen. Wellstone, ferrying among several events. A founding board member of the Center for Voting and Democracy later in 1992, Cindy had recently worked on a campaign to bring proportional representation back to Cincinnati. She talked with Paul about proportional representation, and as with so many things, he was enthusiastic about what proportional representation could do for American democracy. Years later, his long-time confidant Mike Casper wrote a book about American politics in which he advocated proportional representation. If Paul had remained alive and in the Senate, we believe he would have been an ally if a voting system reform effort had begun to really move in Congress."
As Wellstone's survivors and successors of many political affiliations, we can carry on his work for a kind of politics that serves the interests of all and which values the participation of everyone.