Vito Marcantonio: The People's Politician
A FRIEND ONCE PROPOSED to Vito Marcantonio that he write his autobiography. He demurred. Another friend proposed a biography, and Marcantonio shrugged off that idea too. But when someone suggested a title, "Tribune of the People," Marcantonio stiffened and interjected sharply:
"Naw, call it 'The People's Politician.'"
He was a politician, in all respects. He talked politics, thought politics, and spent a lifetime among politicians. He had a professional's skepticism about amateurs. Yet he stood quite alone among his own kind. This in itself was an exceedingly rare thing in a breed which generally stands in mobs or herds or at least in clumps and clusters. When he died suddenly of a heart attack on a New York City street on August 9, 1954, he had been out of office nearly four years. In the last years of his life, therefore, he suffered great frustration. Nevertheless--and this is the essence of his story and the proof of uniqueness-- he refused to change his opinions when they became unprofitable. Apparently he was unable to do so.