Beloved former Democratic Congressman John Dingell passed away last night at the age of 92. A lifelong public servant and great American, Dingell holds the record for the longest-serving Congressperson in American history. An avowed adversary of Donald Trump, Dingell’s Twitter account has long been home to absolutely brutal burns of the Republican president stretching back to before he even won the 2016 election.
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RT if you're more scared of a Donald Trump presidency than you are of ISIS.
— John Dingell (@JohnDingell) October 10, 2016
Flynn lied about Russia.
Kushner lied about Russia.
Sessions lied about Russia.
Trump Jr. lied about Russia.
Trump is lying about Russia.
— John Dingell (@JohnDingell) July 14, 2017
Trump’s entire criminal operation is on the brink of collapsing and honestly there is not enough popcorn in the world.
— John Dingell (@JohnDingell) August 22, 2018
Now, The Washington Post has published a piece called “John Dingell: My last words for America,” a farewell of sorts dictated by Dingell to his wife yesterday. It’s a deeply moving, thoughtful piece, thrumming with love of country and fellow man. In many ways, its the perfect antidote to the current toxic state of our politics.
After briefly acknowledging the fact that his death is looming before him, Dingell jumps right into harsh criticism of the current occupant of the White House.
“In our modern political age, the presidential bully pulpit seems dedicated to sowing division and denigrating, often in the most irrelevant and infantile personal terms, the political opposition,” Dingell states.
Dingell goes on to explain that he was from a different era, in which a kinder politics were at work, where respect for one another was valued even while arguing over bitter, polarizing issues. At the same time, Dingell recognizes that America today is better in a lot of ways than it was in his youth or even middle-age.
“Impoverishment of the elderly because of medical expenses was a common and often accepted occurrence. Opponents of the Medicare program that saved the elderly from that cruel fate called it ‘socialized medicine.’ Remember that slander if there’s a sustained revival of silly red-baiting today,” he observes.
Dingell adds the resurgence of marine life in the once contaminated and poisoned Great Lakes, the passage of Medicare, and the removal of many toxic foods, drugs, and chemicals from broad consumption to the list of substantive improvements. Most importantly, Dingell writes that the country has made great strides towards fixing the “great stain ” of racial discrimination.
“I’m immensely proud, and eternally grateful, for having had the opportunity to play a part in all of these efforts during my service in Congress. And it’s simply not possible for me to adequately repay the love that my friends, neighbors and family have given me and shown me during my public service and retirement,” Dingell writes.
From there, the piece moves on to explore Dingell’s clearly deeply felt love for Deborah, his wife of almost 40 years and someone who also had the distinction of having served in Congress.
A grateful Dingell then reflects on his life of public service.
“In my life and career I have often heard it said that so-and-so has real power — as in, ‘the powerful Wile E. Coyote, chairman of the Capture the Road Runner Committee.'”
“It’s an expression that has always grated on me. In democratic government, elected officials do not have power. They hold power — in trust for the people who elected them. If they misuse or abuse that public trust, it is quite properly revoked (the quicker the better),” he writes.
Dingell ends by thanking his constituents for allowing him the privilege of serving them before bidding his readers farewell and reminding us that we are the custodians of the greatest nation on Earth and as such have a profound responsibility to ourselves and the world.