Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Mikva could conjugate ‘democracy’

Abner Mikva, after having his South Side congressional district gerrymandered away, announced in 1973 he would run for Congress in the northern suburbs.
 (Sun-Times file photo)

     We’ve seen the damage one man can do. 
     To the national discourse. To our country’s health, institutions, honor. To the value of truth itself, and the freedom Americans enjoy, the latest threat being the installation on Monday of a rigid far-right fanatic onto the U.S. Supreme Court, who for a generation will steer the country in a direction most of its citizens do not wish to go.
     As the nation prepares to — maybe — spit out that one-man wrecking crew, Donald Trump, a timely reminder of the good one person can also do has its Chicago premiere on WTTW Thursday: “Mikva! Democracy is a Verb,” an hour-long documentary on the life of Abner Mikva.
     Mikva was the rare political figure to range across all three branches of government — legislative, judicial and executive. A liberal congressman from both the North and South sides. An appellate judge. And White House counsel for Bill Clinton.
     Mikva began his career as a lawyer, then cut his teeth for a decade in the Illinois House of Representatives, where he became expert at a quality that today has reached low ebb: the art of reaching across party lines to get things done.
     “People think, well, if you compromise, that means you don’t have any principles, you’re selling out,” Mikva explains in the film. “That’s not the way it works in a large society like ours. We ought to be able to find a way to compromise our differences, especially on the important issues.”

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