Edition


Vol. 23, No. 70

Editor’s Column

Sacramento Bee political editor Martin Smith wrote recently that Ronald Reagan has been the “superglue” that has held the conservative movement together for 20 years. Of course, Mr. Reagan also has ben the “superglue” that has held the Republican Party together since 1980. But the president will be leaving office soon, so perhaps it is […]

Jacob K. Javits, In Memoriam.

On a cold November afternoon two years ago, Jacob Javits welcomed several Riponers into his law office in New York. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the future of progressive Republicanism, and the senator who had been a proud liberal Republican told the group that he would do whatever he could to help […]

Jacob K. Javits, In Memoriam.

On a cold November afternoon two years ago, Jacob Javits welcomed several Riponers into his law office in New York. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the future of progressive Republicanism, and the senator who had been a proud liberal Republican told the group that he would do whatever he could to help the cause of Republican progressives. He talked for some time and then concluded the meeting by saying that he loved each one there.

Why did a Senate legend speak so forthrightly to a group of individuals, most of whom knew him only by reputation? The answer is simple and goes to the heart of the man. Jacob Javits was a possessor of strong passions, the strongest of which was that human beings have an obligation to each other. At a Ripon Society dinner in New York a year later, he repeated that same message. “You have an obligation to the society which protected you when you were brought into the world, which taught you, which supported you and nurtured you. You have an obligation to repay it,” the senator told the audience.

One might say that Jacob Javits knew then that his years would not be many. His primary chore since 1980 had been to combat the debilitating amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” The illness had robbed him of his strong voice and placed him in a wheelchair.

Yet the determined Javits persevered, just as he had for 34 years in the United States Congress. The son of Manhattan’s Lower East Side worked long hours in both chambers to ensure that equal rights were available for this nation’s minorities, that the hard earned dollars of private pensioneers would be protected by the federal government, and that the power of the presidency would be limited in foreign pursuits by the voice of the people — the United States Congress.

The dedicated legislator also had been a student of Lincoln. and he told the Ripon dinner last November that GOP progressives have a “profound mission to perform politically.” Whether “in the majority or the minority,’ he said, “we have a great function to play. We have a duty to use power to the best effect. [Remain] devotees of the concept of a national party in which Lincoln so vividly believed.”

No doubt, Abraham Lincoln would have been proud to have had a student like Jacob Javits. The New York senator possessed the fire of a brave man, and dared to stand for his convictions. In the autumn years of his life he also sought to pass the torch of equality and justice on to another generation. In that mission, like many others of his career, Jacob Javits succeeded. Like Lincoln, his sense of obligation will bum in the years ahead in the lives of those young Americans who care about fairness.