Thursday, August 27, 2009

In Lieu of Flowers, Pass Health Care Reform

Senator Edward Kennedy, the lion of Liberalism, is dead after 46 years in the United States Senate. As I write this post, a motorcade is making its way through the streets of Boston. I'm watching it on TV, and it feels like the entire population of the city is lining the roadways to say good-bye.

Not surprising since there has been a Kennedy representing Massachusetts in the United States Senate for more than half a century. For the past 46 years, that Kennedy has been Edward "Teddy" Kennedy, who started out the bad boy baby brother of a sitting President and ended up a beloved and respected. senior statesman.

Edward Kennedy was no flash in the pan. He was not a shooting star that burned bright before burning out as many thought he might be in his youth. It turned out that in spite of his personal foibles and disappointments, he was a tortoise not a hare; a man for the long haul, who spoke truth to power and remained true to his liberal political values, even when they were not popular.

Yes, he was a rake, a womanizer, a drinker whose name will forever be associated with a shameful incident at Chappaquiddick, and he cheated on his Spanish exam at Harvard. But he was also a man who was tempered by pain and who learned from his mistakes. With maturity he grew in moral stature and resolve. He was a proud liberal who authored 2500 bills, most of which passed into law. From Voting Rights and Minimum Wage to The Americans with Disabilities Act and No Child Left Behind, Senator Kennedy championed ordinary people. He never forgot who he was in Washington to work for,

He was also a skilled politician; a deal maker who knew how to get things done, and health care, was one of the things he wanted to get done. He started working on a national health care program during the Nixon Administration. He supported Hillary and Bill Clinton's ill fated attempt in 1994. He was an important backer of President Obama's current health care reform, and until ill heath prevented his participation, worked tirelessly behind the scenes and on both sides of the aisle to see it come to fruition

There are those who say that now that he is gone, so is all hope of meaningful health care reform. There are others who feel that health care reform stands a better chance of making it through Congress this fall as a fitting memorial to Senator Kennedy. If you are in favor of meaningful health care reform which includes a public option, let your voice be heard. Most of us can't line the streets of Boston or attend a viewing or funeral. So, in lieu of flowers, let's pass health care reform when Congress re-convenes this fall.

photo courtesy of


LondonGirl said...

A fascinating post.

In his list of bad qualities, though, I'd have to include (from my, British, perspective) his support for terrorism over the Northern Ireland issue.

That said, I hope you do all get proper health care ASAP!

JamaGenie said...

One thing that set Ted Kennedy apart from less well-heeled members of Congress was it was pointless to try to buy his vote with campaign contributions. Helping those less fortunate was instilled in all of the Kennedy children from the day they were born.

Although he never lived down Chappaquiddick, he did turn out to be a much better senator than anyone ever imagined. Some say he purposely ran a poor presidential campaign because he never wanted to be president, only the senator from Massachusetts.

Great piece, ppr. Health care reform needs to be passed, but for those still sitting on the fence, passing it as a memorial to Ted Kennedy works just fine.

Stephanie Hicks said...

Many have their opinions about Ted Kennedy, but I cannot agree more with your observation that he slowly gained his reputation and power over time. No matter your politics, Kennedy worked hard and brought people together. He can finally enjoy the well-deserved honor that he earned, if later in life.

pinkpackrat said...

Thanks all for reading and commenting and let's hope for meaningful health care reform.