Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Remembering Ted Kennedy

Ted Kennedy was a great American legislator, an amazing leader and an inspiring man. I received my Political Science degree at Duke after studying reforms, regulations, and acts that Teddy had a hand in. Any good study of American (or International/Comparative) Politics is incomplete without interacting with his ideology and relentless work ethic. As a Masters in the sociology of education I struggled with the NCLB act he spearheaded alongside Bush and understood his work in closing the racial and socioeconomic achievement gap in schools. We learned of his great efforts directed towards the American student.

To honor Kennedy, we should do as he said as he gave up the possibility of nomination for Democratic candidate for president in 1980. "For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die. ...” The three following causes were a big part of a life he spent in service of the American people. They are three causes that I at least, will work on to keep the dream alive.

* Health Care as a Fundamental Right for All –

“This is the cause of my life.” Kennedy’s life work is forever entangled with Health Care reform. His return to the Senate after his initial scare and operation on his incurable brain cancer are indicative of how close Kennedy thinks we currently are to being able to advance the cause of Universal Health Care. I am keeping an open mind, and listening to all the voices and differing opinions as Kennedy undoubtedly did and would continue to do. I am also keeping in mind the millions of families that can’t afford to take care of themselves and the other millions that are unaware that their health care coverage is insufficient.

* Access to Education and NCLB –

Yes, Kennedy’s partnership with W. spearheaded “No Child Left Behind.” Kennedy sponsored the bill because we track for the first time the inequality in academic achievement and access between students of different races so that we can focus on closing the achievement gap. The problems with NCLB are numerous and have been well documented, so I don’t feel like I should discuss them once again here. That instinct to protect minority populations and forgotten students through accountability is one that should live on (and does). Our efforts to give ALL children the opportunity to be successful should be informed by Kennedy and redoubled.

* Immigration Reform

The failed Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, the failed Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act, (2005) and partnership with Republicans and Democrats alike are just the beginning of Ted’s resume on immigration. After all is said and done, the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act will have been his biggest contribution to immigration reform, an act that abolished national-origin quotas that had been in place since 1924. The Boston Globe in 2008 argued that President Obama’s successful candidacy could trace its roots back to that Ted Kennedy sponsored ’65 Act. Ted Kennedy’s belief that everyone that would contribute to the American project should be granted access to the American dream while protecting those who need government protection here is commendable and a great example to follow.

Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy (February 22, 1932 – August 25, 2009)


  1. i feel that despite his weaknesses and his faults, he never lost sight of what he was passionate about. Public Service.

    may he rest in peace.

  2. Thanks for the comment VM, and yeah of course his faults and weaknesses were numerous, he had a little too much love for the sauce, and was a Kennedy, but the work he did was amazing, and his focus was always the people of Mass/US.

  3. Do you know how MA fills vacant seats like this (it seems to vary from state to state)? Because his will be some very big shoes to fill.

  4. I'm not completely sure, he's been lobbying the MA legislature to change the law so that they could pick someone immediately so that the Democrats would have another vote for Health Care, but I think they didn't and it'll just be vacant till mid-term elections.. You're right though, they are gonna be pretty big shoes...

  5. There was another side to the late senator. You have covered his commendable efforts in the Senate. Let us not forget that he was suspended from Harvard for two years for cheating, was directly responsible for the death of one beautiful young woman, and lived the wild frat boy life in DC while married to Joan.
    To many of us Irish Americans he fit the drunken Irish Rover stereotype for far too long. Also, his enthusiastic embrace of abortion - which he saw as Liberal dogma - was and is perhaps the greatest betrayal of his Catholic faith one could imagine (and this is beyond the Harvard, Chappaquiddick, and late-night party boy incidents),
    On balance, those of us who are familiar with the Kennedy's place him fourth of the family male quartet...well behind Joe Jr (the best), Jack, and Bobby. And of course, his life pales as compared to Eunice.
    So, remember the good work of the late dissipated senator but remember the bad deeds as well. We could have had more good if he could have restrained himself from the bad.

  6. Right you are, and thanks. There were two very conflicting sides to the late Senator, and if the side I highlighted yesterday saved and improved tens of millions of lives, the side of him you highlight today also ruined and sullied more than a few. One very memorable incident above all.

    While I don't think its tremendously fair to place him fourth in the Kennedy male quartet, I understand where he has upset many of his fellow Irish Americans and Catholics.

    Thanks for the comment.