Walter Mondale: A Forgotten Legacy


Dan Stark, Student Editor

On Monday, April 19, former Vice President Walter Mondale passed away at 93. A lifelong Democrat, he spent more than two decades in public service. While he is most remembered for his unsuccessful 1984 presidential campaign, he left a legacy that cannot be ignored.

Mondale’s political star began to rise when he was appointed to the Senate in 1964 to fill the seat of vice-president elect Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota. He built his reputation as a New Deal-style liberal and a supporter of progressive values. He championed his accomplishments in civil rights, the Great Society and aid to farmers. Though he initially supported the Vietnam War, he became opposed to it during Nixon’s presidency and supported legislation to end the war.

In 1976, Mondale was selected as Jimmy Carter’s running mate in the election of that year. The Carter-Mondale ticket narrowly defeated incumbent President Gerald Ford and Mondale became the 42nd Vice President of the United States. Mondale approached the vice presidency differently than his predecessors. Rather than acting as a symbolic figure, he took a hands-on approach to the role. During his tenure, he took an active role in policy decisions, held an office in the White House, received intelligence briefings and advocated Carter’s agenda in the Senate. In addition, he and Carter had a strong bond with each other, eating lunch together everyday. Mondale’s approach to the vice presidency set the precedent for what the job is today.

After Carter lost the 1980 election, Mondale began planning his political comeback. In February 1983, he announced his campaign for president to challenge incumbent Republican Ronald Reagan in the 1984 election. Mondale won the Democratic nomination after a long primary season with strong challenges from Senator Gary Hart (D-CO) and Jesse Jackson. Mondale made history by selecting Geraldine Ferraro, a representative from New York, as his running mate. The Mondale-Ferraro ticket was the first major party presidential ticket in history to feature a woman. He ultimately lost to Reagan in a landslide, carrying only his home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia.

Though many may forget about Mondale and merely remember him for a landslide loss, his contributions to America cannot be ignored. From his senate accomplishments to his reshaping of the vice presidency, Walter Mondale leaves behind a legacy of American progress.