By Quentin Choy
April 20, 2021
Former Vice President to Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale has died in Minneapolis, MN at the age of 93. He is remembered for his service in the Korean War, as well as for his role as vice president during the Carter administration. President Carter commented on the death of his vice president, saying “today I mourn the passing of my dear friend Walter Mondale, who I consider the best vice president in our country’s history.”
Mondale was the Democratic Party’s nominee in 1984 against Reagan-Bush where he was defeated in a landslide, winning only his home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia. The Electoral College vote was 525-13, with about 58.8% of the country voting for Reagan-Bush. His loss is attributed to a highly successful economy under Reagan and a charisma that could not match that of Reagan.
Mondale also publicly announced that he would raise taxes on Americans. Mondale still carried with him the pessimistic tone of the “era of malaise” that burdened the Carter era with stagflation, the Iranian hostage crisis and the energy crisis casting a gloom over his presidency.
Mondale did best among African-Americans and Hispanics, although every age group including 18-24 year-olds overwhelmingly supported Reagan.
Mondale is also remembered for selecting Geraldine Ferraro, a U.S. representative from New York to be the first female vice presidential nominee on a major party ticket. Ferraro died in 2011.
Vice-President Harris, who followed in Ferraro’s footsteps to become the first female Vice President commented on Mondale’s death, saying “Vice President Mondale transformed the Office of the Vice President. He brought the President and the Vice President closer together, re-defining the relationship as a true partnership. Vice President Mondale worked side by side with President Carter as the two endeavored to end the arms race, promote human rights, and establish peace.”
In a statement from the White House, President Biden commented on Mondale’s death, saying: “He may have been modest and unassuming in manner, but he was unwavering in his pursuit of progress; instrumental in passing laws like the Fair Housing Act to prevent racial discrimination in housing, Title IX to provide more opportunities for women, and laws to protect our environment. There have been few senators, before or since, who commanded such universal respect.”
According to his Senate profile:
Mondale held values closer to those of the older generation of Democrats—forged by the Great Depression and the New Deal and influenced by the liberalism of Franklin D. Roosevelt—than they were to the new generation of postwar politicians of the era of John F. Kennedy. A strong believer in the social gospel of helping the poor and needy, who feared the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few, Mondale's father regularly talked politics with his family at mealtimes. The family's heroes were Franklin Roosevelt and Minnesota's radical governor Floyd Olson.
Following Mondale’s passing, the remaining Vice Presidents who are still living include President Biden and VP Harris, Mike Pence, Al Gore, Dick Cheney, and Dan Quayle.
Interesting Reads on Walter Mondale:
The Good Fight: A Life in Liberal Politics by Walter Mondale and Dave Hage
Image Courtesy of WSJ