Phil Hart Dinner Info
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Phil Hart - A Man for Our Age
By Michael Hohauser
Philip Hart passed away December 28, 1976. Almost 40 years later we continue to honor him. In late September 1976, Senator Hart spoke his last public words before the Michigan delegation to Congress: "I close as I began, by thanking all of you for trusting me." Senator Hart was known for his intelligence and analytical mind. But is was the moral substance of his positions and the depth of his character that made him the most trusted man in American politics of his day. As Coleman McCarthy wrote for the Washing Post, December 29, 1976: "He fronted for no one. His alliance were timeless ideals, no upstart lobbies... He bet, that the common vanities of hack politics -- image, smiles, calls for brighter days -- counted for little. Instead, he wagered that conscience and persistence could matter."
Philip Hart served the United States Senate for 18 years. He sought to increase the accountability of corporations long before it became fashionable. He spoke for inner city children damaged by lead fumes and farmers poisoned by pesticides. His politics was to elevate policy, not the arrogance of public spectacle. Although he recognized that "no one gets into elective politics who doesn't have some ego to be fed, and that includes me" (referring to himself), he worked consistently and tirelessly on behalf of politics as "a high vocation."
He recognized the danger of peddling arms to poor nations and spoke of that danger -- often to colleagues who did not hear. He related selling arms to poor nations and our need to spend trillions on arms at home. In this he saw waste. "Every dollar spent that way is a dollar deprived the poor, health systems, and educational systems."
"By maintaining fidelity to one wife, one church, and one Party throughout his adult life, Hart lived, one might say, as a conformist. But the ideals he conformed to -- that laws mattered, that public exposure of evil would reduce victimization of the innocent, that inner rage was compatible with outer gentleness -- were less the values of the herd than his own standards of singular excellence." -- Coleman McCarthy, December 29, 1976
That is why the Oakland County Democratic Party gather to honor Philip Hart. That is why we have gathered over the last 39 years. That is why we will gather in years to come. We honor him because we want his values to continue. We wish to participate in those values. We pray that each of us has the strength to live those values whatever the temptations, whatever the dangers.
While support for our young people at war is universal, support for the policies which put them at war is not. Philip Hart would listen to both sides and would create his own judgment based upon eternal values without reference to the prejudices of the moment. In this he would be trusted because he had proven he could be trusted. That is what we honor. That is who we wish to be.
Philip A Hart Senate Office Building, Washington DC