I was a freshman in college, I hadn't even been at Marquette for two months, and I remember turning on the TV when I got back to my dorm room from class and just sitting there in shock as the news came in. I cried, a lot. Wellstone was one of my heroes, he was a huge reason I had left for college already knowing that I wanted to major in political science and having him die so suddenly, just 11 days before his re-election, shook me to my core.
To me, Paul Wellstone was what a politician should be. Fiesty, big hearted, intelligent, dedicated and honest. He was the only Senator up for re-election in 2000 that voted against the Iraq War and the only one to vote against new standarized testing requirements in school in 1999. If that isn't courage, and standing up for what you think is right in the face of insurmountable odds, then I don't know what is. He was for the working class, the little guy, the unions, the poor, the farmers and the immigrants. He baulked at conventional big money, and even drafted the amendment to the McCain-Feingold law that limited special interest money in elections. An amendment that stood until Citizens United was decided by the Supreme Court in 2010.
Paul was a liberal, when being a liberal wasn't cool. I am a Wellstone Liberal, and I don't care if it goes out of style.
I won't go into the problems that arose from the investigation surrounding the crash. How the FBI crew that left Minneapolis arrived at the crash site earlier than was humanly possible. The only way they could have gone that far in such a short time was if they left- headed towards the crash- before it had even happened. I won't dwell on the negative. Mostly, because Paul wouldn't have. Instead I'll leave you with some of his quotations that still move me a decade later. The world may never know another Paul Wellstone, but if we do, I pray their time is not cut so painfully short, leaving so many of us to again wonder, what might have been.
And finally, my most favorite of all, "Never separate the life you live from the words you speak."