Still, models to be emulated
To be sure, Jackson's legacy of service, leadership and pivotal legislation stands as one of America's great political stories. But many of the deeply held feelings expressed in the days leading up to today's centennial seem to be about something more -- maybe a longing of sorts.
Against today's backdrop of strident, often bitter partisanship in national politics, perhaps it's a yearning for a return to the principled but pragmatic approach that Jackson seemed to embody. Amid the rancor, we detect a desire for a public discourse in which our representatives can articulate their positions without getting personal, one in which compromise is held as a value, not an impeachable offense.
A large measure of Jackson's legacy is about "trying to do the right thing for the right reason, despite the political implications," Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson said. "Scoop was the epitome of what was good about our system, and what's missing now."
It's not that Jackson didn't relish competitive politics; he was good at it. He never lost a congressional race, and came close to winning the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976. But the poisoned atmosphere of today's politics goes far beyond the battles of Jackson's era, taking on a my-way-or-the-highway mentality that has no effective place in a functioning democracy.
We're poorer for it, and the distance to solutions to our most vexing problems is growing. That's something for each of us to consider today, the 100th anniversary of Jackson's birth.
Also detectable between the lines of the tributes to Scoop is a grateful community's appreciation for Helen Jackson, Scoop's partner in life and politics.
After Scoop's unexpected death in 1983, his wife remained committed to a life of serving the Everett community, making a difference in countless ways, both visibly and behind the scenes. This even though she wasn't from Everett, having moved here after marrying Scoop in 1961. She still resides in the family home on Grand Avenue.
Everett gave Scoop Jackson strong roots that served him well, and he never forgot that. Neither did his wife. Today, we celebrate their lives of service. They remain outstanding models of commitment to building a better world, models today's leaders should strive to emulate.