Regardless of political persuasion, none can deny the footprint left by Aberdeen native Tom Daschle on the American political landscape.
For all his accomplishments, not the least of which was achieving the position of majority leader in the U.S. Senate, it is time that the community of Aberdeen properly honors Tom Daschle.
Born in Aberdeen in 1947, Thomas Andrew Daschle attended private and public schools and graduated from South Dakota State University 1969. He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1969 to 1972, was elected as a Democrat to the 96th Congress in 1978 and re-elected to the three succeeding Congresses.
Next, he was elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate in 1986 and re-elected in 1992 and 1998.
He achieved the rank of minority leader in the U.S. Senate from 1995 to 2001, 2003-2005 and served as Senate majority leader from 2001 to 2003.
He is the author of several books including, “Like No Other Time: The 107th Congress and the Two Years That Changed America Forever,” “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis” and “Getting It Done: How Obama and Congress Finally Broke the Stalemate to Make Way for Health Care Reform.”
Since his time in Congress, Tom Daschle has worked as a special policy adviser to the law firm of Alston & Bird and is a policy advisor for DLA Piper. In May, Northern State University featured Tom Daschle as its commencement speaker and conferred upon him an honorary doctorate.
One of Daschle’s enduring qualities has been his ability to work across party lines.
Reflecting on his ability to listen to people, Daschle wrote in 2003, that “interaction with South Dakotans has influenced my approach to the work I do in Washington. I’ve always believed in the politics of inclusion, of consensus, of coalition building, of connections. This approach requires, above all, the ability to listen, to consider someone else’s viewpoint.”
In fact, it is all too easy to become divisive or partisan when it comes to politics. But no one can argue that Senator Daschle, even if one disagreed with him, always acted in what he believed were the best interests of South Dakota and the United States. Our community should be proud that he learned those values, first and foremost, by growing up in Aberdeen.
We should honor Tom Daschle for his long and distinguished service to South Dakota and the country.
You may ask, how could Aberdeen honor Daschle? Some suggestions include a new “Thomas Andrew Daschle Public Library,” renaming Central High School to “Thomas Andrew Daschle High School” or renaming Aberdeen Regional Airport to “Thomas Andrew Daschle Regional Airport.”
Whatever way we choose, now is the time to plan exactly how we, as a community, recognize his legacy.
Alan L. Neville is an associate professor of education at Northern State University. The views are his and do not represent Northern State University.