During the years I lived in Kalamazoo, our Congressional district’s dominant religious force was Dutch Reform, politics were conservative, and Big Business was very much the direction of the place and the times. And yet, time and again, we managed to elect Representative Howard Wolpe to Congress, a liberal Jewish academic. Everyone loved Howard. Everyone referred to him by his first name. There must have been plenty of Republicans who voted for him, too, since he was not only elected but in office 14 years. If the district lines hadn’t been redrawn, I have no doubt he would have remained our Congressman. In fact, he might have, anyway, except that he didn’t want to run against another incumbent from his own party.
That was Howard: honest, decent, principled—and beloved. Now I learn that he died on Tuesday. That is very sad news.
Howard was not a grandstander, but not someone who would back down, either. He stood up to Ronald Reagan, and his influence reached far from Kalamazoo. It was an honor and a source of pride to be represented by such a human being.
P.S. 11/5 A friend sent me this link about a letter Howard Wolpe, before his death, wrote to his successor.