John Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress and a real upstanding politician — a rare breed — died on February 7, 2019.

My friend and colleague, Bill Smith has for years been creating an e-column called Qotd which is, in his words:

qotd (quote of the day) is a two-decade-old, more-or-less daily email listserv of usually illustrated quotes, and backtalk from qotd subscribers.  If you would like to subscribe, you can sign up at http://eepurl.com/ggQOtf  (If it gets too spammy, each qotd has an unsubscribe link at the bottom).

Qotd posts run the gamut of witty, sarcastic, profound, explicit, provocative, inquiring, spiritual, savvy, and downright fun.  It’s timely, and a great source of daily news.  If you want a nice daily lift in your inbox, join qotd.

I was inspired by this particular post and wanted to share it.

[I apologize for the formatting snafu, below, but I couldn’t get the two programs to make nice with each other.  You’ll be fine.  Trust me (I’m from the government.)]

“One of the advantages to knowing that your demise is imminent, and that reports of it will not be greatly exaggerated, is that you have a few moments to compose some parting thoughts.

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.

…My personal and political character was formed in a different era that was kinder, if not necessarily gentler. We observed modicums of respect even as we fought, often bitterly and savagely, over issues that were literally life and death to a degree that — fortunately – we see much less of today.

Think about it:

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.

Not five decades ago, much of the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth — our own Great Lakes — were closed to swimming and fishing and other recreational pursuits because of chemical and bacteriological contamination from untreated industrial and wastewater disposal. Today, the Great Lakes are so hospitable to marine life that one of our biggest challenges is controlling the invasive species that have made them their new home.

We regularly used and consumed foods, drugs, chemicals and other things (cigarettes) that were legal, promoted and actively harmful. Hazardous wastes were dumped on empty plots in the dead of night. There were few if any restrictions on industrial emissions. We had only the barest scientific knowledge of the long-term consequences of any of this.

And there was a great stain on America, in the form of our legacy of racial discrimination. There were good people of all colors who banded together, risking and even losing their lives to erase the legal and other barriers that held Americans down. In their time, they were often demonized and targeted, much like other vulnerable men and women today.

Please note: All of these challenges were addressed by Congress. Maybe not as fast as we wanted, or as perfectly as hoped. The work is certainly not finished. But we’ve made progress — and in every case, from the passage of Medicare through the passage of civil rights, we did it with the support of Democrats and Republicans who considered themselves first and foremost to be Americans.

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.

…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).

I never forgot the people who gave me the privilege of representing them. It was a lesson learned at home from my father and mother, and one I have tried to impart to the people I’ve served with and employed over the years.

As I prepare to leave this all behind, I now leave you in control of the greatest nation of mankind and pray God gives you the wisdom to understand the responsibility you hold in your hands.

May God bless you all, and may God bless America.

  ~John D. Dingell, My Last Words for America, Washington Post, Feb. 8, 2019.

Dingell, a Michigan Democrat who served in the U.S. House from 1955 to 2015, was the longest-serving member of Congress in American history. He dictated these reflections to his wife, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), at their home in Dearborn, on Feb. 7, the day he died.

About Pam Lazos

writer, blogger, environmentally hopeful
This entry was posted in civil rights act, Democrat, politicians, racial discrimination, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to QOTD

  1. Such a wonderful man. We need more just like him.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. cath says:

    I’ve not heard of him, but he sounds like what we hope for in a politician, and so rarely get.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Susan Scott says:

    Bless this man forever and his wife for continuing his good work. And Congress for progress. An important reminder, thank you for it:’… In democratic government, elected officials do not have power. They hold power — in trust for the people who elected them.’ – and that it can be revoked. I wish our govt would take this to heart – there’s thing thing about them being the ‘ruling’ party – for pity’s sake, they’re the SERVING party ..

    Liked by 1 person

    • pjlazos says:

      You’re so right, Susan. After 28 years in public service, I know that this is the gold standard and much of what we see today are really bad imitations. So good to know there are still some out there who believe in the mission. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  4. lindasschaub says:

    John Dingell was pretty incredible Pam and he was the Congressman for the 12th District, which is the district where I live. His wife, Debbie Dingell, 28 years his junior, succeeded him after his retirement. He was quite an environmentalist and local groups like Detroit Audubon Society and Friends of the River (both which I follow on Facebook) posted nice tributes commending his efforts for the environment. He really liked Twitter and was widely known for his witty thoughts in that forum, especially against the current administration.

    Liked by 1 person

    • pjlazos says:

      Thanks, Linda. How lucky for you to live in a district with that kind of thoughtful politician. I’m curious about the whole succession thing. How did she assume his seat? She had to run, of course, but did she just win on name recognition?

      Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        Hi Pam – Debbie Dingell is the same way as John Dingell was. She strives to attend every large civic event in her congressional district, just as her husband did. Like him, she immerses herself into her constituents’ endeavors – they both liked to mingle with their constituents at diners, donut shops, and parades – nothing phony about either of them. John Dingell was elected 29 times which was a record. I am not a citizen so I’ve never been able to vote for either of them. (I am a Canadian citizen and still hold a green card (since 1966)). Debbie Dingell likely did win on name recognition – after he announced his retirement five years ago, she decided to run in the November election and won. I am sure he counseled her as well. They’ve given many stats on the news since his passing and I did hear she was the first non-widowed woman in Congress to succeed her husband. My friend has been active in the “Young Dems” for decades and she will be attending the local funeral tomorrow as she worked on their respective campaigns.

        Liked by 2 people

      • pjlazos says:

        Wow, thanks for the background, Linda. 🙏What an inspiring couple. If only there were more like them.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        You’re welcome Pam. There have been so many nice tributes for this man Pam in all aspects. Yesterday I mentioned the local Audubon Society and Friends of the Detroit River tributes – today the office building for Blue Cross Blue Shield in Detroit did their lights on their very tall building in blue to show the initials of his name for all that he did for healthcare. Simple but heartfelt tributes.

        Liked by 1 person

      • pjlazos says:


        Liked by 1 person

  5. Clearly a powerful, inspiring soul. May others take his place in all the right ways!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ken Dowell says:

    It’s a hopeful message. One that says our government works, that it will act to protect its people and their environment. No so easy to see that.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. He wrote those words on the day he died . . . That’s a startling and beautiful and immense thing.

    Liked by 2 people

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