Walter Mondale, like all of us, was imperfect. But Minnesota and the nation are fortunate to have had his service. Integrity, intelligence, compassion, and a bipartisan mindset were his hallmarks and present stark contrast to many in the contemporary U.S. Congress.

Outside Minnesota, many will recall only that he lost 49 states to Ronald Reagan in the 1984 presidential election, one of the greatest landslides in American history. I believe the state of our union would be much better today had Mondale won. Whatever his merits (and he had many), Reagan was a deliberately polarizing figure who encouraged right-wing extremism, and you may draw a direct line from his presidency to the events of Jan. 6.

By contrast, Mondale was a liberal in the best sense of the term — a believer in permanent reform based upon reason and rational debate, in economic fairness and equality of opportunity, and in the notion that we can transcend our “tribal” differences and work toward significant change via practical measures. He believed that it is crucial to our own well-being to protect the biosphere, that the concentration of wealth and power in fewer and fewer hands is toxic to a democratic republic, and that honest government has a legitimate role in the creation and distribution of wealth.

For anyone contemplating a stint (or a career) in public office, they would do well to view Walter Mondale as a role model.

Peter M. Leschak

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