We’re losing one of the good ones.
Rep. Rush Holt, a Democrat from New Jersey, announced yesterday that he won’t be running for re-election later this year:
“Congress, even with its frustrations, is the greatest instrument for justice and human welfare in the world,” he said. “The stories trying to puzzle out why someone would do something else are based on this rather narrow way of thinking that the only purpose for a member of Congress is to be re-elected. I’ve never viewed it that way, and I think everybody who’s worked with me knows that I think there are a lot of things that I can and should be doing.”
Mr. Holt’s retirement is not expected to affect the Democrats’ chances in 2014; a seat that he barely wrested from a Republican in 1998 has been made reliably Democratic in two rounds of redistricting.
Even though the seat appears to be in Democratic hands, his loss is tough to swallow in a House where anti-science Republicans — including several who sit on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee — have run amok.
Holt, despite being Congress’ sole Quaker, has been a friend to Humanists during his time in office, especially as of late. For the past two years, he introduced resolutions honoring Charles Darwin‘s birthday.
The Atlantic‘s David A. Graham summarized Holt’s awesomeness this way:
That’s quite a combination for the House to lose: a Jeopardy-champion Quaker physicist who loves Reddit, Arrested Development, and funny bumperstickers.
The American Humanist Association’s Matthew Bulger also laments the loss:
Rush Holt is truly the nonbeliever’s congressman, even though he himself professes to be a Quaker. Holt has shown that a scientist can be just as effective (or even more so) as a politician than someone who previously worked as a lawyer or minor government official. He has shown us that scientific thinking does have its place in public policy, and that people of all religious beliefs and of no belief should be included in the political process. While he certainly deserves a reprieve from the constant partisan bickering and antagonism of Congress, his presence in the House will be sorely missed.
I’m not expecting another Ph.D. to take his place, but how depressing is it that I’m just sorta hoping he doesn’t get replaced by another Creationist or climate change denialist…?