“The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die.” -Edward M. Kennedy
Much will be written about Ted Kennedy (here’s a pretty good warts-and-all assessment from Gawker) by folks far more talented, erudite and knowledgeable than I. But here’s my two-cents: our biggest loss, besides an old school liberal who fought the good fight for nearly half a century, is that of an accomplished legislator. And I mean that as a high compliment.
Look at the Senate today, filled with grandstanding buffoons, focused primarily in self-promotion, ideological purity and their own petty interests. Despite a Democratic majority, we have the craven Harry Reid leading the party, always with a quick answer as to why he can’t pursue the agenda of his own party (he’s been doing this since GWBush was in office, and continues to do so, despite a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate); DINOs like Dianne Feinstein (who won’t meet with constituents to discuss health care and, who I’ve heard from a reliable source who worked in the Senate, is rather a dim bulb); insane wingnuts like Tom Coburn (who wants abortion to be outlawed under any circumstance) and Sam Brownback (who doesn’t believe in evolution. “Ew! Too sciencey.”)
Senator Kennedy, despite whatever personal flaws he may have had (I’d rather have a functional alcoholic senator than a non-functional sober one), was able to shepherd bill after bill after bill through the Senate. Some highlights:
The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, the National Cancer Act of 1971, the Federal Election Campaign Act Amendments of 1974, the COBRA Act of 1985, the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Ryan White AIDS Care Act in 1990, the Civil Rights Act of 1991, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, the Mental Health Parity Act in 1996 and 2008, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program in 1997, the No Child Left Behind Act in 2002, and the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act in 2009.
He fought for the poor, the oppressed, those who our society had overlooked or passed by. And he was able to work with Republicans in order to reach consensus and get laws passed – and how better to measure the effectiveness of a member of the Senate? A senator who is able to legislate… Imagine all that could be achieved if we had just a handful of current senators (of either party) who were even half as effective at deliberating and passing legislation. And look how much we achieved having just one Ted Kennedy…
As JFK said, “To whom much is given, much is required.” Ted Kennedy was given much and gave us much more in return.