Sen. Harry Flood Byrd Jr., who died July 30 at age 98, was, at the time of his death, the oldest living ex-senator and the first independent candidate to be re-elected to the U.S. Senate.
One suspects that if U.S. congressmen would focus on truthfulness,
integrity, decency, and just plain showing up for work (Byrd answered 96 percent of Senate roll call votes in 18 years), our government would be vastly more effective. Byrd represented a rapidly dying tradition of constituent trust in those who govern.
An ardent adherent of fiscal conservatism and states' rights, Byrd would surely have endorsed the saying of Henry David Thoreau: "That government is best which governs least..."
Byrd rarely introduced new legislation; like his father, he made known his political endorsements by maintaining the "golden silence," and he frequently refused to accept expense money and pay increases.
Byrd was one of those rare American politicians who attempted to safeguard the American system of government both from the shifting whims of popular opinion and from domination by a corporate-style, one-size-fits-all mentality.
John Clem, Edinburg