A Statement on the Passing of Senator Richard Lugar (1932-2019)

Statement from CSPC CEO Glenn Nye, Trustee Richard Phillips, and Senior Fellow Maia Comeau

Senator Richard Lugar, who passed away last Sunday at the age of 87, was a kind and thoughtful man and a dedicated public servant. From his time in the United States Navy, to his service as mayor of Indianapolis, to his leadership in the United States Senate and around the world, Dick Lugar epitomized a set of values and statesmanship that are too often lacking in American politics today. Senator Lugar looked always for grounds for agreement on important issues rather than divisiveness and rancor. 

This dedication to civility and cooperation did not lessen Senator Lugar’s impact—it enhanced it.  Because of his ability to work across the aisle, Americans are safer from nuclear and biological threats; farmers have received critical assistance in difficult times; more Americans have been able to buy a home; and the Chrysler Corporation was given a chance to rebuild itself.  He supported efforts to combat climate change and protect the environment, enhance human rights around the world, open the doors for women to serve in politics, increase transparency on global energy prices, and expand NATO. Through all of these efforts, Senator Lugar remembered that the principle role of government is not to battle those with different perspectives, but rather to find the common ground and serve the American people who put him in office.     

With his passing, it is left to us to continue his important work. At the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, we remember Senator Lugar, salute his life of service, and seek to emulate the values he espoused through our work on the Commission on Political Civility and Effective Governance. Senator Lugar was willing to buck his own party when his conscience and duty to country demanded it, sometimes at political and personal cost.  Even after losing a primary campaign for his Senate seat, Senator Lugar continued to work for a more civil and effective government, dedicated to serving all Americans, through the Lugar Center. We hope to continue this work and create opportunities for engaged citizens and political leaders to make hard choices and find effective solutions. On this, as on so many things, his leadership, his spirit, and his vision will be missed.