Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Daily Strike-8/26/09-Remembering Ted Kennedy

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike, on what is a very sad day for all of us. Tonight, we reflect on the legacy of the late Senator Ted Kennedy.

THE LION: I was really struck with sadness this morning upon hearing of the passing of Edward M. Kennedy. The 77-year old Senator, who has represented Massachusetts since 1962 died last night of complications relating to a brain tumor. Pretty much every good piece of legislation in the past 40 years has Ted Kennedy's name on it. Title IX, COBRA health insurance, the American with Disabilities Act, SCHIP and this year's public service bill are just a few of the bills Kennedy championed that made life better for countless Americans.

We all know that he was a fierce advocate of liberal policies. We know too that he was a skilled legislator who was one of the great deal makers in Senate history. But something else sticks out for me when I think about Ted Kennedy. I came of age in a fundamentally conservative era. For the first 22 years of my life, 14 were during Republican Presidencies. Even the lone Democratic President in my lifetime continued and often perpetuated policies that I profoundly disagreed with. The normal political order from 1980-2008 was massive redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich, the unraveling of our social safety net, deregulation policies that benefited fatcats at the expense of the American worker and unnecessary military adventurism. Our political ethos was soiled with an antipathy toward the poor, a deep seeded resentment toward racial and ethnic minorities, and the celebration, praise and glorification of selfishness and greed. It would have been easy for all of us to become disillusioned with politics, and we all did. How many of us made quips after the 2004 election about moving to Canada?

But even through this dark era, as Paul Simon would say, "in the clearing stood a boxer." It gave me great comfort that there was someone in the halls of power that gave voice to the voiceless, who believed in the liberal ideals of equality of opportunity, shared prosperity and the search for the common good. Even if he was sometimes a lone ranger, and he often was, we knew that our cause was always his concern.

Out of this lost period came an era of great hope. Barack Obama's election as the first African American President gave us part of the embodiment of Ted Kennedy's vision. A self-described "skinny kid with a funny name," with hard work, hope, and dedication, became President of the United States. This enormous triumph seemed to be the most appropriate culmination of Ted Kennedy's life's work.

But unfortunately, Ted Kennedy's biggest dream has yet to pass. Lost in all the noise of the last couple of months, all of the town hall meetings, all of the delays and obstruction, is that 47 million Americans still don't have health care, and millions more live with the insecurity that if they get sick, they could lose everything. Now that Ted has left us, we can't let up. We know that his cause endures, and we know it's our responsibility to see that his dream will never die.

No comments:

Post a Comment