Don’t misuse his name

As a politically active bleeding-heart liberal, I’ve attended my fair share of campaign events; working on several campaigns, I’ve even planned such events myself. Most recently I attended Sen. John Kerry’s, D-Mass., rally at Macalester College in St. Paul. Frankly, it left me outraged.

Kerry was introduced by several speakers, notably the United Steelworkers of America President Leo Gerard, Hennepin County Afforney Amy Klobuchar, former Vice President Walter Mondale and Sam Kaplan, a major contributor to the Paul Wellstone and Kerry campaigns – all of whom equated Kerry with Wellstone. Kerry also likened himself to the late senator saying, “I’m a Wellstone Democrat.”

They didn’t just mention Wellstone casually, though. Kaplan went so far as to suggest that Kerry and Wellstone were “soul mates.” To be fair, Kaplan knew Wellstone far better than I, other than to describe Wellstone as the “soul mate” of anyone other than his wife Sheila makes me physically ill. Kerry is no Wellstone.

Since his death, Wellstone has become a martyr for the Democratic cause and a political goldmine for presidential hopefuls in Minnesota. Wellstone is a personal hero of mine, but he held this position well before he died.

Recall shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, when people who never owned a flag before began waving them around hysterically. Like that, after Oct. 25, 2002, people who did not even know his ideology began to post “Wellstone!” signs on their lawns (one woman even offered to purchase mine – I declined her offer). As of late, Wellstone’s name has been overused and misused ad nauseum.

If I had some advice for the presidential candidates, it would be this: Be your own candidate. By showing us your credentials, you can let us come to our own conclusions about whom you remind us of most.

Let’s not let Wellstone’s legacy be tarnished by allowing the misuse of his name. Let’s not base our votes on who invokes Wellstone’s name most frequently. Instead, let’s let Wellstone’s legacy live on through our memories and in our daily lives.

Zac Handlson is a first-year political science student and former Wellstone campaign intern. He welcomes comments at [email protected]