Unless you live under a rock, you now know that Sen. Edward M. Kennedy has died. Yep, Ted Kennedy has gone to that great open bar in the sky.
His passing brings many things to mind for me. Not the tragedy involving Mary Jo Kopechne. Not the flaws in his personal life. Not the bitter and sorrowful thread that weaved its way through his family.
After experiencing sadness upon the knowledge of his death on a personal, and human level, I was struck by something that my ex said.
I called the house Wednesday morning to talk to Ryno, and while waiting for him to pick up the phone I asked his mom if she had heard about Ted Kennedy.
She told me yes and that it was sad, and then went on to say something that somewhat surprised me.
She said, “What will we do now? I mean, all of the great ones are passing away and we have to rely on the current and next generation of politicians? God help us.”
Allow me to put her comment in context. The statement is coming from a person who is hardly a Liberal. Hell, she voted for McCain, and if anything, she is center right…a moderate at most.
Upon hearing her say that, my head cocked, my eyebrows peaked, and for a second, my mind went blank. I couldn’t answer her question. But her statement did proffer more questions…and thoughts.
Why, outside of the Kopechne death, was he hated and loved with such fervor? It finally dawned on me. He was a tireless, tenacious, legislator who clung to, and pushed forward his ideas of what the country should be.
He had a major hand in the writing and passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, COBRA, Title IX, The ADA, No Child Left Behind, and of course, had been doggedly promoting Health Care for all for decades.
Kennedy was both loved and hated because he was continually offering up change. When legislation is proposed that may alter the lives of Americans, love and hate for the idea grows quickly and exponentially. But…
Unlike most Americans, Sen. Kennedy never shied away from his ideals or feared changed. He was proud of what he thought, and he passionately championed each cause and more importantly each person in which he believed.
He…was…a…statesman. And as I look to the House and Senate today, I don’t know of anyone who has enough passion or gravitas to carry Kennedy’s bucket full of scotch laced piss. Sad.
I’m not saying that I want someone with whom I agree to follow the ideology of Kennedy.
I am trying to find someone who demonstrates leadership…a legislator who is unafraid of speaking loudly and strongly…A legislator who still has a fire in his or her belly.
Where is the next Henry Clay? The next Daniel Webster? The next Robert LaFollette and yes, the next Edward Kennedy?
I don’t see it coming from the Senators or House members who currently hold office. Hell, other than your own Senators and a handful of others, can you name the U.S. Senators? Only a few can, and you know why?
They don’t do anything outstanding or push the envelope of thought, oratory, and legislation to the edge.
Instead, our Senators and even more so our congressmen and women are more concerned about introducing bills concerning flag burning, defining what marriage is, and asking for an official resolution of apology because someone they know got their feelings hurt.
Of course, their inane inertia is not entirely their fault. The issues I mentioned are exactly what riles up their constituents, their poll numbers, and more importantly their donors.
We are as much to blame for having no giants among men in our Congress. We don’t want giants. We are quite happy with like-mindedness and mediocrity. It makes us feel safe.
People like Ted Kennedy and others, who dare to challenge our values, ideas, and put an itch onto the left ass cheek of our comfort zone are unwelcome.
I feel sorry for us, but I am happy for Sen. Kennedy. Finally, after his years of struggle, toil, and effort, he is at peace.
He dwells in a place where social equality is the rule, no mouths go unfed, and there is health care for all.
In death, his dream did not die with him…It was realized.