Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Get better, Ted!

Ted Kennedy. I love that guy.

It was 1994, the year I turned 18 and the first time I could ever vote. As I stood in the voting booth set up inside my elementary school, Rice Square School in Worcester, Massachusetts, I pondered my options. I didn’t know much about politics, but I knew that Kennedy was both part of my state’s culture, as well as a pretty stand-up guy. From what people had told me, the candidate running against him wasn’t so good; it was this guy, Mitt Romney, who, unfortunately, still hasn’t disappeared.

So Senator Kennedy got my vote, and millions of others, allowing him to continue his reign to become the second longest serving senator in Congress.

Kennedy’s made some mistakes, politically, over the course of the years. What springs to mind, of course, is the No Child Left Behind Act and too much cooperation with Republicans over that immigration bill. But, no matter what the case, you always knew that Ted was generally doing what he thought was in the best interests of peace, civil rights, democracy, and he tried to make compromises when he saw them necessary—never based on some sort of ideological agreement with the Republicans, but in the interest of doing something. And, for much of the past few decades, with Republicans dominating either the executive, the legislature, the judiciary—or all three branches—compromises were necessary. Even now that the Democrats have a majority, they still have to compromise.

But over the years, Kennedy has become a standard bearer for progressives in the Senate: For the past 30 years he’s been fighting for abortion rights; he was one of a very small number of U.S. Senators to vote against Bush’s invasion of Iraq; he’s fought for gay rights (only four other senators besides him have spoken in favor of gay marriage; he’s voted the right way on labor issues 93 percent of the time, according to the AFL-CIO…the list goes on. One could mention the environment, student aid, education, and, of course, civil rights. In fact, Barack Obama commented that he may never have even been a member of the Senate were it not for Kennedy’s work on civil rights.

Kennedy has become somewhat of king in Massachusetts. He hasn’t had to worry about re-election in years, due both to his popularity and his rank in the Senate, yet he’s still been doing as much as possible to advance a progressive agenda. He was one of the earlier superdelegates to go for Obama, and has campaigned for him.

I'm proud of the fact that Ted Kennedy was the first person to ever get my vote, and that I came from a state that made that possible. I wish the best to Sen. Kennedy, and hope that he’ll recover. A Massachusetts without Kennedy doesn’t seem right, and a Senate without him would lack a great fighter for justice.

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Nicole said...

He aint dead yet, so stop eulogizing!

Sue said...

Beautiful and so right.