Mikulski will be missed.
The scramble to fill the shoes of Senator Barbara Mikulski, a woman who has had a remarkable career of public service and who has left a major mark on our state and nation is on. I hope that whoever succeeds her will continue to embody the principles which have been the hallmark of her career.
While remaining firmly committed to liberal ideals, in the finest sense of the word, Mikulski has a unique ability to bridge ideological differences and to serve as a unifying force. Her appeal comes from a genuine concern for all her constituents, for the rich and the poor. She never forgot her working class roots and has been a tireless advocate on behalf of the little guy, giving voice to those who might otherwise be ignored. She is an inspiration to all, and embodies the best of what it means to be a public servant.
I especially recall one time a number of years ago when I met with her in her Senate office along with other Jewish leaders. It was a most unusual session. Instead of our lobbying her, she wound up lobbying us.
She even chastised us and lectured us for not being more outspoken in our advocacy for Israel. I do not remember what the specific issue was, but I do remember her telling us how important it was for us not to be timid, but to speak out more forcefully. She urged us to meet with our other elected representatives, and to do more and work harder to galvanize our community on behalf of Israel. It was extraordinary for a member of the Senate to turn the tables on a group of Jews who came to lobby her and tell us we needed to be doing a better job of lobbying.
At a time when many question the bi-partisan support for Israel, Mikulski stands out as an exemplary leader, in the mold of other great liberal Democrats such as Hubert Humphrey, Bobby Kennedy and Henry Jackson who strongly embraced Israel’s cause.
As a member of an ethnic minority from Baltimore, and always appreciative of the support she received from the Jewish community, especially early in her career, she felt very much at home with Jewish groups. Whenever she would speak at a synagogue, because of her height, she would always make sure there was, as she called it “the box the Bar mitzvah boy stands on” so she could be seen. No doubt about it, when it came to issues important to the Jewish community, she was seen and she was heard.
She will be missed. Let us hope that whoever follows her will be an equally tireless advocate on behalf of the issues that are important to the Jewish community, and will be as devoted to Israel as she has been throughout her career.
Also published on Medium.