09 August 2011

Mark O. Hatfield (1922-2011)

As a young Christian trying to sort out the relationship between my faith in Jesus Christ and the political landscape, Senator Mark O. Hatfield was one of my heroes. I was privileged to hear him speak at a church in Minneapolis back in 1975, and I was favourably impressed. Here are two retrospectives on Hatfield's life and witness within the political realm, coming from opposite sides of the political aisle: Cal Thomas: A Conservative Remembers Mark Hatfield; and Wesley Granberg-Michaelson: A Tribute to Mark O. Hatfield. This is from my own Political Visions and Illusions (pp. 148-149):
U.S. Senator Mark Hatfield of Oregon enjoyed a long political career extending over nearly half a century, although many of the positions he took on specific issues were quite controversial, especially his early opposition to American involvement in Vietnam. Hatfield explicitly claimed to vote in accordance with his convictions whether or not his constituents always agreed. Nevertheless, Oregon voters continually re-elected him, twice as state Governor and five times as Senator, not because he followed their wishes, but because he acted on principle and in so doing earned their continued respect. Refusing to bow the knee to the god of popular sovereignty is not necessarily a recipe for political failure. On the contrary, many citizens prefer to vote for someone willing to stand on principle.

May Senator Hatfield rest in peace until the resurrection and may the LORD see fit to raise up principled statesmen and stateswomen in his place.

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