The Voice of A Lion Is Stilled

ted-kennedy-01By: The David

He went into the Senate when he had barely reached the required age. There were those who said he would never make it there, that he would be a boy among men. He came into Washington and the halls of government at the time his brother Jack was the President and Bobby headed the Justice Department as Attorney General. In the early days all he could prove was that he had strong work ethic. He proved that, but he also proved to be a playboy of sorts.

Soon the tragedies began to mount: the deaths by assassins bullets visited first on Jack, and then on Bobby. Then the Chappaquiddick incident occurred in 1969, and he almost lost it all. It was a sad and shocking incident in which a young woman who had been a campaign worker for Bobby was found drowned and still under water in a car that had been driven by the young Senator Ted. He was adjudged to have been innocent of wrong-doing, but the national uproar continued. He was on the verge of resigning his Senate seat, but cooler heads prevailed, and whether he should leave or stay was put to a non-binding state referendum, and the voters of Massachusetts spoke loudly in their support of Edward Moore (Teddy) Kennedy continuing.

Continue he did. Ted Kennedy held his seat for just short of 47 years, a remarkable feat. After Chappaquiddick he was seen to “knuckle down” and work in earnest. He applied his work ethic on behalf of the people in his home state and the people of the Nation. He was no longer moving in the shadow of his brothers, but he still carried the standard for those things they believed in. He became a vociferous champion of Civil Rights; he espoused the rights of racial minorities, and the rights of women. He became the voice of the disenfranchised, and of the poor. This man who had been a child of privilege in a remarkable family of privilege found his voice and his message in his work for those who did not enjoy that same privilege.

Senator Ted Kennedy was a proud Liberal. He proudly retained that label even when it was looked on as a hindrance, when other Liberals were hiding behind the new label, “Progressive” because of the politics of the times. He was a proud Liberal, yes, but he was also a pragmatist. He was probably one of the very last Senators to believe that his political positions did not put him at war with those who held different views. He knew that the business of government required that both political parties work together. He was often the catalyst for this compromise. He was effective to a remarkable degree. He championed health care availability, and was instrumental in seeing that the needs of the Massachusetts health programs were funded to whatever degree could be allowed and using whatever Federal Funds could be allocated for that purpose. He worked toward health care for the elderly, for children, and finally access to health care for all.

It had been his cause from its beginnings in 1966, to the contentious debate that presently rings through the chambers of the offices of the Government. Universal Health Care: the dream, the ideal. It is the dream that sees the United States joining almost all of the industrialized western nations in providing for the health needs of those who are unable to access the care that is so necessary to living a life of the quality that everyone deserves. It was Senator Kennedy’s passion. It was Senator Kennedy’s dream.

There is a sad irony that we should have lost Ted Kennedy during this period of dissension caused by the debate over health care. There are those who say that had the Senator been healthy and able to shepherd the bill through the Senate, we would see a result that would answer the prayers of the many who must go without any form of health care because they are uninsured and poor.

He has been called the Lion of the Senate. To some, he is the last Lion. His voice has been stilled, but it would benefit this country to remember his legacy and to know that his legacy is still alive and still with us.

4 Comments on “The Voice of A Lion Is Stilled”

  1. he was flawed, like us all, his life was on a grand scale that is no more, the very idea of “to those to whom much is given, much is expected” was lost to the wealthy generations ago …. the family was always chasing something that we can only imagine. For those who think that heath care, is a new and radical idea dreamed up by a black man from Hawaii, do some research … this idea is decades old and it’s chief standard bearer was a man who never had to worry about paying any bill, to whom there was no benefit, it was a principle of fairness for the richest nation in the history of the world to provide to it’s weakest and needest citizens. The Kennedy’s are clouded by myth and that myth will only grow with time; but what a time, what a sense of promise, and hope and possibility ….. I saw it all, not through the re-examination of book seller and historians ….. I was saddened by his passing, he did his best and now he has peace and the only judgement that can ever matter.

  2. Flaws are what makes us human. If we were flawless, how could we possibly understand weaknesses, secret vices, undefined cravings, dissatisfaction and fantastic dreams? If we were flawless, then we would be truly flawed, for we then we would not know how or why we should feel compassion, charity or forgiveness.

    Ted Kennedy was the last active voice of a legacy that will probably be remembered long after the infamy of this era has passed. I commend their mother, Rose, for raising a family who understood that their wealth was only the great good fortune of birth and the vast majority were not nearly as privileged. I commend the family for bringing grace and beauty to a time period climbing up out of the trauma of war and economic depression. I commend Ted, Bobby, John for remaining true to their convictions and never backing down when they believed they were right. Their type of rightness doesn’t have to be a dream discarded to the past. In fact, i believe someday someone else will pick up the torch to carry us out of the darkness we’ve stumbled into.

  3. It seems to me that what Senator Kennedy tried to do was to deliver the “torch” into the hands of the current President, Barak Obama. Whether Mr. Obama is able to heft that torch and run with it remains to be seen. My hope is that he can. Yet I am so troubled by the chorus of hate and fear mongers who scream and agitate against any proposal coming from the White House. There needs to be a great noise made by those who want and need Universal Health Care to be passed intact and with the Public Option. That Option is the only way to cut back the power the Insurance Companies use to deny the care we need.

  4. It’s odd, but Bush probably did more damage to our economy and our Constitution than any modern president, but the murmurs against him scarcely made a ripple. Obama, on the other hand, can’t take a step without stirring up a frenzy by the dogs of war. His hands have been effectively tied by a public that has no idea what it wants except immediate relief from its debt. It will not receive immediate relief from its debt. Anything we do will cost us. If we do nothing at all, it will still cost us. Keeping our social services intact will cost us. The salaries for our deadlocked legislature will cost us. Creating a comprehensive health care package will cost us. Developing new energy sources and changing the structure of industrialization to environmentally low impact standards will cost us. The key lies in separating unnecessary costs that offer only short term solutions and artificial bolstering from real value investments. An investment is anything that has the potential to continue or raise in value in the future. We are at rock bottom. Every day that we spend contemplating how we should spend our fiat money is another day our economy grows weaker. We need to re-invest in America now. Invest in its health, its schools, its plans for new development. Everything else is superficial.

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