Saturday, August 29, 2009

Goodnight, Liberal Lion

I had intended for my next article to be about the recent shift in my position on healthcare. I know you'll be stunned to know (not really) that after careful and thoughtful analysis, I've moved further to the left on this issue.

But that article will have to follow this one.

Because things have changed.









Wednesday morning, at 5:30 AM Central Standard Time, I awoke to the news that Senator Edward Kennedy had died. And since that moment, I've been distracted by the enormity of that loss and the tragedy that he did not live to see the culmination of his life's work.

Senator Kennedy's death has also helped me clarify something I've had a hard time explaining my entire life. His death has brought into focus exactly how it is that I came about my particular political philosophy. My reflections upon his life have helped me to explain how my politics have become the lens through which I judge just about everything.









And all vast amounts of grey in between.

Senator Kennedy's words are more eloquent than any I could ever write.

"My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.

Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world.

As he said many times, in many parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him:

'Some men see things as they are and say why.
I dream things that never were and say why not.'

Teddy Kennedy's ideals, articulated with a laser's precision, inspired a generation and some, like me, who followed.

"The poor may be out of political fashion, but they are not without human needs."

"And to all those overburdened by an unfair tax structure, let us provide new hope for real tax reform. Instead of shutting down classrooms, let us shut off tax shelters. Instead of cutting out school lunches, let us cut off tax subsidies for expensive business lunches that are nothing more than food stamps for the rich."

"Finally, we cannot have a fair prosperity in isolation from a fair society. So I will continue to stand for a national health insurance. We must -- We must not surrender -- We must not surrender to the relentless medical inflation that can bankrupt almost anyone and that may soon break the budgets of government at every level. Let us insist on real controls over what doctors and hospitals can charge, and let us resolve that the state of a family's health shall never depend on the size of a family's wealth."

My twelve year old son asked me about Ted Kennedy as I watched his internment at Arlington's National Cemetery. He wanted to know if he knew him. I said, "I don't think you do. I would like you know this about him. He was never apologetic about what he believed was right for our country and he never wavered in his ideals."

I was about to continue when he interrupted me with one of the sweetest things he has ever said to me. "He sounds kind of like you, Mom."

Then, I cried.

These words, spoken by Teddy Kennedy in 1980 when I was but thirteen years old, ring ever truer today.

"For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."

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