In Praise Of Doug LaFollette
Tuesday evening, walking along the isthmus in Madison, was the beige-hatted man who always smiles and seems so content with life. Every time I see him walk it always seems he has the same pace, never hurried– it appears–by events, but rather assured that whatever needs to be done will get completed in proper time.
There was no way to discern Tuesday evening by his actions that he is a statewide elected official, or that his name was on the ballot for the Democratic primary leading up to the recall election.
Doug LaFollette walks by our home every day, but it never struck me so deeply how calm and serene he is as a person until Tuesday evening. I guess had my name been on the ballot my steps would have been more ‘caffeinated’. Granted LaFollette has waged many races and is accustomed to election nights, but the historic nature of what we are now experiencing would have allowed him the right to walk with wider steps and a far-a-way look.
Yet LaFollette was the same man Tuesday evening that he was last year. He will be the same next week as he was tonight. I like that ‘realness’ about people, but do not always find it when it comes to politicians and elected officials.
I admire how LaFollette conducted himself in the recent campaign. Folksy and genuine. While all of the Democratic candidates vying for the chance to compete with Scott Walker were complete packages with skills, experiences, and political competency, there is something unique and more solid about LaFollette that stood out.
I admit several weeks ago I signed Doug LaFollette’s nomination papers for the primary race. Some may find that hard to believe as I am a strong Kathleen Falk supporter. But there I was walking down the street when LaFollette, an amiable and truly reflective thinker, greets me and asks if I wanted to sign his papers. Since I had not yet signed for Falk I was not in a position to have to say no. As everyone can understand there also was not an artful way to say no to the request. To be honest there was a true part of me that was proud and pleased to sign my name.
I had already heard him speak about the issue of money that was flowing into the race, and the need to think about the deeper reasons we all came together to force the recall of Walker. How could one not agree with his message, or see that LaFollette was speaking from his experience and heart?
That is after all the type of candidate we seem to express a desire to see run when speaking about politics in the abstract.
As LaFollette walked along on Tuesday night the clouds that had left a brief shower were drifting away, and sunshine was again taking over. He looked across the street, and I waved and shouted ‘Good Luck”. He smiled and continued walking.
We need anchors like LaFollette in the party to remind us there are bigger goals than always winning a race. There is something very comforting to know that sometimes a candidate has strong views and positions that are worth talking about even though the odds of victory at the polls are a long-shot.
It is nice to know that regardless of the outcome he experienced at the polls, come Wednesday evening he will again be walking his own pace through the neighborhood with a contented look on his face.
It is nice to see a politician comfortable with life.