Way Back at Mac: Politics

Trump v. Clinton. Clinton v. Trump. Johnson? I don’t know about you but the ongoing Trump Clinton saga with a few Johnson or Stein interjections has got me pining for simpler times; even the Gore, Bush chronicle with a sprinkling of Nader doesn’t sound half bad at this point. If today’s politics have got you down, read on to discover some particulars about Macalester’s political history.

Did you know that Vice President Hubert Humphrey, was a Political Science professor at Macalester? Humphrey began professorship at Macalester in 1943 before he took to the national stage. Even early on in his career, Humphery set himself apart from other professors by his active engagement in politics. In a 1978 Mac Weekly article, Professor Theodore Mitau noted that, “‘in those days professors stayed away from politics. Humphrey was very committed to political activism, but he was not a typical Macalester professor.’” Fortunately for him, though perhaps unfortunately for his students, Humphrey was elected Mayor of Minneapolis soon after in 1944. Thus began his Macalester hiatus. Humphrey moved from Mayor of Minneapolis to the Senate and then to vice presidency. After his unsuccessful run for president against Nixon in 1968, Humphrey returned to Macalester. Humphrey reflected on his run for president in an interview with the Mac Weekly in 1969. Despite not coming out on top, he decided, “Everyone of us makes mistakes, but a mistake of the mind is one thing, a mistake of the heart is another. And I may have made misjudgements, but I know what my instincts were. And, therefore, I tried to do what I thought was right.” Humphrey let his instincts lead him for the rest of his time at Macalester. When he left Macalester in 1978, he was remembered “for his tremendous interest in people and in students,” said Professor Dorothy Dodge, Chairman of the Political Science department, in a 1978 TMW tribute to Humphrey.

President Jimmy Carter and Vice President Walter Mondale also have a part in Macalester record books. Mondale attended Macalester for two years before finishing his BA in Political Science from the University of Minnesota in 1951. Like Humphrey, Mondale took to the Senate and the vice presidency and even made an unsuccessful swing at the presidency. In September 1993, Mondale returned to Macalester to receive the Board of Trustees Award for Meritorious and Distinguished Service during an all campus convocation in Weyerhaeuser Chapel. The award was presented to him by none other than his running mate, Jimmy Carter.

Despite all these lovely historical tidbits, a bit more digging uncovered the sobering fact that we really can’t forget our current democratic debacle. In 2012, none other than Gary Johnson graced the Macalester campus sporting a peace-sign t-shirt and a grey blazer. TC Daily Planet reported that Johnson challenged the audience asking, “What if you all ‘waste your vote’ and vote for me?”
Seems as though our travel back in time just led us back to our current predicament, but then again, time tends to do that.