This is a response to bleauxmi's writeup, but I think it's important to publically counterpoint at least some of his arguments.
I keep reading, with some disgust, the continued ranting and raving over Senator Jesse Helms' departure from the U.S. Senate. The prejudiced bile flows from the eponymous node Jesse Helms to the blatantly hostile title Why Won't Jesse Helms Just Hurry Up And Die?
If you want prejudiced bile, simply look at some Jesse Helms Quotes. He called the University of North Carolina the "University of Negroes and Communists," made really blatantly stupid comment in from of the United Nations Security Council, made unsupportable claims in his fundraising mailers about regarding what is being taught to children in public schools, insulted Latinos, insinuated that homosexuals were buying the election of one of his opponents, etc.
As for the node Why Won't Jesse Helms Just Hurry Up And Die?, perhaps you should have read the node rather than judge it by the title. You would have seen that it's a lyrics node.
Senator Helms may have done more than any other Senator currently in office to fight the Communist encroachment on the Free World, starting from his election to the Senate in 1972. His personal sources of information in the Latin American political realm and nations, coupled with his unswerving opposition to Communist activity, have perhaps done more to keep the Central American battleground of the Cold War active and our defense at the forefront. While some may decry this, I would point out that without media scrutiny, the U.S. would be unable to continue the fight. The creep of liberal policy and anti-Conservative threads through the media and polity alike made if difficult for even the greatest recent President, to continue this most crucial defense against a violation of the Monroe Doctrine by the United States' worst enemy.
Even though Helms was elected post-McCarthy, many of the anti-communist actions of the United States from 1972 to present were very distasteful, destructive, and wrong. We outspent U.S.S.R. to bankruptcy with a nuclear arms race that we and many generations from now will still be paying the debt upon many years from now. Now we have to pay to clean up this arms mess, and pay to provide security for Russian nuclear weapons because of the fear that nuclear weapons will be stolen and used for terrorism. Russia's economy suffers because the Soviet Union was broke when the regime fell. We're not only paying for our part of the arms race and the cleanup from the Soviet's side of the arms race, but for the economic aid of a country that we led to bankruptcy in a race to see which who could blow up the world more times.
We were also led into brinksmanship, which brought us to the brink of atomic annihilation, and nearly brought about all-out nuclear wars more than a few times because both sides were on such a hair trigger.
His very longevity in the Senate should speak for him! If the liberals are so completely assured that he is a marginalized aberration, why, then, has he been re-elected in democratic contests time and time again? Are they thus telling us that the majority of North Carolina's voting populace is composed of reactionary, conservative, ignorant dullards unable to see what's good for them? A more condescending attitude I have rarely seen. It is one thing to discuss the proclivities and leanings of individuals, especially individuals whose lives (for better or worse) are on the public record; it is another for so many Americans to continue blindly believing that the entire population of a state is deficient.
Longevity simply means he's been re-elected enough times, and has enough seniority, to get on very powerful committees. It mean that if certain kinds of bills want to get pass, they must get past him.
No, I certainly don't believe that the majority of North Carolina's voting populace is composed of reactionary, conservative, ignorant "dullards." I do believe the North Carolina is very conservative. I also believe there are certain reasons that Helms has had such a long term in office. Helms supports tobacco, and North Carolina is a very big tobacco state. I'm sure that for all the ignorant things that Helms has said and done, North Carolina tobacco farmers continue to re-elect Helms because they know he will do everything in his power to insure that their tobacco is a viable, profitable crop. Corporations love him as well, thanks in part to his support for corporate welfare. I'm sure lots of corporate and tobacco dollars (both tobacco farmers AND the tobacco industry) have been spent to make sure that North Carolina residents think that Helms is the best thing since sliced bread. In all reality, Jesse Helms may be very good for the state of North Carolina, bringing in lots of federal tax dollars for the people of that state, and protecting their interests.
On the other hand, there's nothing that says that voters in the other 49 states, who participate in equally free and democratic elections, have to support Senator Helms and like his politics and public statements. Perhaps Helms has won re-election so many times because the groups that he marginalizes do not have much political clout, the number of voters, or the beaucoup dollars in their war chest to defeat him. Remember, the corporations, tobacco farmers, and the tobacco industry I mentioned earlier? Helms support comes at a price, and that price is rather large contributions to his campaign finances.
Having said that, aren't elected officials supposed to work to protect The Constitution of the United States, and the rights of all their citizens, not just the majority of WASPs that elected them?
In any case, whatever you may feel about Mr. Helms, you cannot say he is ineffective! In fact, this is probably the thing that infuriates the left most; their biggest bugaboo is, despite being obviously 'evil,' nonetheless able to command an enormous amount of power and influence in the Senate. This is true to the point where even their most treasured left-leaning home Senators and Representatives find themselves acquiescing with his views, and supporting his initiatives. The recent Clinton administration, the darlings of the liberals (in the initial years, at least) was no different; their own Secretary of State was forced to call upon Mr. Helms, and ended up proclaiming him her 'friend and colleague.'
It's called political maneuvering. Neither party can get much done on their own. In the Senate, bills can be the target of a filibuster. When the numbers on both sides of the aisle are so close, it's very hard (even for the majority party) to pass anything unilaterally. Compromises and deals must be made to get the most important parts of a party's agenda through the Senate. It's political reality. The right has to do it as well, and I'm sure liberals relish that fact when it occurs. Just because you have to work with someone doesn't mean they're all that great or effective. It just means he has enough rings in his trunk that you can't just cut him down.
The political realities that you point out do not make Jesse Helms a great man or a great Senator. It means he fermented in that Senate chamber a very long time, and due to seniority and party recognition, can make or break bills.
In all, a number of Americans. including myself, have various reasons to choose from to dislike Jesse Helms. Those of us who do will indeed celebrate his departure, and pray Elizabeth Dole doesn't get elected in his place.
Though Mrs. Dole, I'm willing to bet, couldn't be near as bad as Mr. Helms.