Scranton’s political style is sadly in short supply today
We’re not sure former Pennsylvania Gov. William Scranton, who died recently at age 96, could have made it in today’s political world.
For starters, Scranton, elected as governor in 1962, was a moderate Northeastern Republican. That breed of politician is in short supply in this age of extreme ideology.
Scranton served a single term, during which time he ran as a presidential hopeful on the Republican ticket, the moderate alternative to conservative Barry Goldwater in 1964.
After the failed nomination bid and a term as governor – the lawful limit at that time – Scranton faded into the political background.
Most of today’s politicians would have leveraged the governor/presidential nominee experience for any number of high-paying, political patronage jobs within their political party’s grasp. Scranton was a behind-the-scenes adviser to four presidents and numerous aspiring politicians.
During his term as governor, Scranton doubled spending on education and oversaw the creation of the state’s community-college system and the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, now a national provider of student financial aid services.
Scranton also chaired the presidential panel that investigated deadly campus protests at Kent State University and Jackson State College in 1970 and served as United Nations ambassador under President Gerald Ford.
And he performed this wide range of understated roles with humility that belied his personal fortune and political power.
Like we said, we are not sure he could have succeeded in today’s political world, which is too bad, because his style of political leadership is what we need more than ever.