A few moments ago I learned that former Indiana Senator Birch Bayh has died at the age of 91.
For those unfamiliar, Senator Bayh has the distinction of being the primary architect of the last two amendments to the United States Constitution proposed and ratified within the 20th century – the 26th Amendment, which established a national minimum voting age at 18; and of course the 25th Amendment, which obviously I have some familiarity with.
While people can conduct their own research on Senator Bayh and his myriad legislative accomplishments, in reading his book on the subject of the 25th Amendment, “One Heartbeat Away,” one could readily surmise that this was a man who readily put country before party; a politician who was actually a credit to the nation rather than one worthy of scorn or ridicule.
The fact that he was defeated for re-election by future Vice President (and near momentary benefactor of the 25th Amendment’s provisions) James Danforth “Dan” Quayle III, and that he died during an era in which the first invocation of Section 4 of the 25th Amendment’s provisions is being openly discussed as a potential remedy for a variety of the nation’s ills are things that aren’t lost on me today. Regardless of your political ideology, it’s a sad state of affairs that we, as a nation, have all but driven people like Senator Bayh out of the political arena – because it’s literally beneath them to serve us.
Rest in peace, Senator. Your contributions to our country should be remembered every time an 18, 19 or 20 year old goes to the polls for the first time, and on those rare occasions when, for whatever reason, it’s necessary to invoke any of the provisions of “25.”