What Do You Stand For?

Senator Frank E. Moss brought me to Washington. He was the last Democrat elected to the Senate from Utah, serving from l959 to l977.

Moss was a liberal in the most conservative state in the union. So when he announced his intention to run for the Senate he wasn't given much of a chance. Even after he easily won his party's nomination, no one took him seriously. The Democrats' Senatorial Campaign Committee was quick to write him off as a long shot. They saw no point in supporting his effort.

But Moss was resolute. He organized a grass roots campaign, making his case door-to-door, community by community, across the state. And, to everyone's surprise, as the election approached Moss' determination began to pay off. He closed the gap to the point where polls showed him within the margin of error.

At that point even his biggest doubters began to realize he might win and the DNC decided they had better reconsider. The possibility of capturing a seat in Utah was too tempting to resist. They dispatched representatives of their Senatorial Campaign Committee to offer their support.

They met Moss at the hotel where they were staying in Salt Lake City. They congratulated him on the quality of his campaign and told him they were prepared to give him whatever he would need for the media buys that would push him over the top and assure his success.

But they said there was one condition.

They said the money would come through Senator Long from the oil lobby. Moss had to promise that if he was elected they could have his vote any time they needed it.

Moss said, "No." He refused their support and decided to stand on his own.

Moss' meeting with the DNC was never publicized but everyone knew what had happened by the time he arrived in Washington to be sworn in. It earned him the respect of his colleagues and a reputation for integrity.

I can't help wondering what he would think of the current crop of Presidential candidates and their campaigns, the bitterness and bickering, and the charges of "liar, liar" flying back and forth.

My guess is he would say, "If you don't stand for something, you stand for nothing."