In other words, there are reasons that Congress’s approval rating hovers around 10 percent. But it’s at times like these that it’s important to note that many members of Congress resist the temptations of power that Gates zings them for. It’s vital we recognize real examples of selfless public service and integrity.
That’s why we should truly mourn the loss of Andy Jacobs Jr., a Democratic House member who represented Indianapolis for 30 years before retiring in 1997. Would that the Democratic party still had more clear-eyed, independent liberals like him.
He died late last month at age 81, and his memorial service in the rotunda of the state capitol was held just a few days ago. It is a measure of the bipartisan respect Jacobs engendered that he was mourned by Democrats along with such Republicans as Governor Mike Pence, his predecessor Mitch Daniels, and former Indianapolis mayor Bill Hudnut. “I’ve lost a dear friend, one who never held a grudge,” Hudnut recalled. He remains the only man who ever defeated Jacobs, ousting him from Congress in the Nixon landslide of 1972 only to lose to him two years later in the Watergate election of 1974. But the two grew close and remained so until Jacobs’s death last month.
Jacobs was a self-described “parsimonious progressive” whose record bore some resemblance to that of maverick Democrat William Proxmire of Wisconsin, who served as a senator from that state from 1957 to 1989. Jacobs didn’t accept congressional pay raises, took no overseas junkets, didn’t mail taxpayer-funded propaganda to his constituents, and declined all contributions from special-interest groups. His frugality led him to turn down a color TV set for his congressional office.
He also once refused to board a plane because only first-class seats were available and taxpayers were picking up the tab. The plane crashed, killing everyone aboard. Even though he had been wounded in combat while serving in the Marines during the Korean War, he turned down a disability pension. “He didn’t think it was right to take that money, since he had a job with a good wage,” family friend Gary Taylor told the Associated Press. “He was frugal, and that’s something I think the public really [liked] about him.”