The outpouring of honor and affection at the death of Hubert Humphrey was a well-deserved tribute to a man who, in the words of the Apostle Paul, was truly “God’s servant for your good” (Rom. 13:4). It is also a tribute to the political system that God has seen fit to authorize for the American people that those who disagreed with many of Humphrey’s views could nevertheless so highly regard him as a man and as a politician. In the same passage, the apostle repeatedly asserted that “the authorities are ministers of God” (v. 6), to whom respect and honor is due (v. 7). To the extent that any man can be, Humphrey was deserving of the tributes he received, both as death was looming, and then as it came, not only for his office’s sake, but for the character, integrity, and zeal with which he filled the offices he held. Whatever our roles in life, we could wish that we filled them as ably.
During his long career, Humphrey served as mayor of Minneapolis, as senator, as vice-president, and again as senator. He narrowly lost the race in 1968 as the Democratic nominee for President. Many analysts think that it was Humphrey’s continued loyalty to President Johnson’s war policies in Viet Nam that cost him the election. The disgraces of President Nixon’s administration and of his reelection campaign were in part provoked by the narrowness of Nixon’s victory over Humphrey. That Humphrey and Nixon were in contact prior to his death, and that Nixon made his first return to Washington to honor his political opponent does credit to both men.
During his long tenure in the Senate, Humphrey learned the importance of winning the respect of one’s colleagues if there was to be ...1
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