Monday, August 31, 2009

Why I Miss Ted Kennedy

I know faithful readers, well, whom ever has actually seen this little strand of the internet, it has been a long time. It isn't that I have had nothing to talk about, it is that I have been incredibly busy. Still, not an excuse for not keeping the world updated.

Anyway, I have had many ideas for a new article, but I figured this would be the best to lead off with. So much has been said about the legendary Senator over the past week or so since his death, I figured I would add a little of my own prospective.

To me, Teddy was the greatest product of that legendary family. Probably less famous than his two middle brothers because of their assassinations and the stage they used, the youngest of the four Kennedy brothers did more for this country than maybe anyone in history. While the Kennedy's have always been symbols of the American Left, none embraced quite what that means like the youngest brother. Teddy was pro-choice, anti-death penalty, anti-war and, more than anything, a champion of the poor and the minority. In reality, he embraced the idea of constitutionalism, freedom and equality better than any leader this country has ever had. There was always a catch with other leaders. FDR tried to pack the Supreme Court, Ted's brother Jack was a hawkish interventionist, but Teddy was true to all these causes. That doesn't mean he didn't work well with others, as his now well documented relationship with arch-conservative Orin Hatch shows, he just stuck to his guns and never wavered from his caring for people.

Actually, Kennedy's relationship with Hatch brings up a really good point. Both Teddy and Orin are great examples of patriotic Americans who have given their lives to the service of both their country and their constituents. Now, despite what the election of Mitt Romney as governor suggests, Massachusetts and Utah are as far apart ideologically as states can get. Yet how far apart are we really? Most Americans I know want a few things: freedom, equality with others and as little government intervention in their lives as possible. The differences start when it comes to how we view other people. Whether or not we want other people to have those same three things we want for ourselves. That is why Ted Kennedy was such a great man. He had everything. He was a straight, white, rich, Christian (don't go into all that Catholic v. Christian stuff, Catholics are Christians and are not treated as second class citizens at all anymore) male. He could have taken the position that others shouldn't have the same rights as him, simply because he was never at any risk of losing those rights. Yet he championed exactly the opposite. Progressive taxation, poverty eradication, absolute equality (not a new concept, the 14th Amendment is obvious in its wording) and getting the government out of people's private lives.

That is why Ted Kennedy was so great. He championed positions not out of necessity, but out of a belief that they were right.

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