Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Liberal Lion


I have been trying to figure out how to best talk about the recent news of Senator Ted Kennedy. Not gonna talk about the medical condition but rather would like to talk about one of the most maligned and criticized politicians in the US.

I have done research, went through videos of his speeches on YouTube, and have looked for the reactions of so many in Washington and around the country

There is no doubt that few out there have been as controversial or politically radioactive as Ted Kennedy. The history and controversies are well known and what happened in Chappaquiddick is a black eye that will rightly never leave Ted Kennedy.

However, despite his personal mistakes Ted Kennedy has been one of the great Senators in the history of our country. He has been a powerful voice advocating for many issues in this country that many care about.

He has fought for wider healthcare access, better education, labor protections, increasing the minimum wage, fought against bills he felt went against the spirit of the Constituion like the Patriot Act, and was a loud voice against the war in Iraq before it was popular to do so.

Kennedy's steadfastness to stand by his beliefs is rare nowadays. Today politicians are watered down and weak, mostly unwilling to 'think big' and try to truly find ways to better the country.

This is a problem that has contaminated both parties in our country.

The big thinkers and big ideas seem to be a thing of the past. Legislation often has to be forged in the middle, yet I contend that great and big ideas come from the extremes of both parties.

Moderates have their place, but they now control far too much.

Let's keep one thing in mind, the founder of this country were big, radical thinkers and their success is pretty amazing.

Nowadays, our Congress is loaded with people who have selfish objectives. They want to bring home porkbarrel spending for their states or districts so that highways and bridges can be named after them. That desire is only trumped by one other train of thought, make decisions to ensure reelection.

When the left wing or what was left of it after 9/11 was attacked for being weak and 'out of touch' many Democrats cowered in the corner, sold out their beliefs, and said to Republicans "please don't hurt me'. (Yes this is an homage to a great speech in the West Wing, the video of which is at the end of this article, WATCH IT!)

A number of these Democratics politicians who sold their souls and beliefs, were defeated for their reelections anyway. Tom Daschle comes to mind, John Kerry voted for the war, as did John Edwards, Hillary Clinton and other prominent Democratic member of Congress who lost their courage.

Ted Kennedy throughout it all held firm and was chastised, mocked, and minimized by many and most in his own party wanted to stay as far away from him as possible.

When his own party lost its vision and backbone, Kennedy was a leader that could be counted on to remain a voice that those who weren't so sold on Cheney/Rove policies could feel was advocating for them.

You can think he is wrong on issues, but aren't we a better and stronger nation when there are multiple ideas and viewpoints out there. Especially those that hold against intense public and political pressure.

A founding father of this country, the Great Ben Franklin once said,

"He who gives up freedom for safety deserves neither."


In the past 20 years few have embodied this brilliant and historic quote more than Senator Ted Kennedy who has often taken the road of political danger instead of safety. More importantly, when we started as a nation to trade in our freedoms out of fear after 9/11, Ted Kennedy was leading a lonely fight to preserve our country's principles.

A few weeks ago I was trying to write an article about this great clip from the West Wing and couldn't make it work. Well, today think that this clip is represented by the political courage of Ted Kennedy. A politician who hasn't cared that many have termed the label liberal into a bad word. But as the guy in the clip below says, 'its time for their to be two parties in this country.'

With Ted Kennedy around the left wing of this country has always had a consistent voice.

I'm a liberal and I thank Ted Kennedy for representing me and many of my beliefs. 17people wishes him a healthy recovery to get back and keep fighting for those that need his voice.

CORRECTION:

Thanks to a loyal reader it was pointed out to me that Senator Kennedy indeed voted for the initial Patriot Act. When 98 Senators voted yes only Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold stood alone an voted against it. The hundredth Senator wasn't present but would have voted for it.

17people apologizes for the error.



3 comments:

Storm said...

Well JC, you know I respect you and your beliefs and because you are a friend I wont say anything one way or another but....dont forget that Kennedy DID vote for the Patriot Act.

http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=107&session=1&vote=00313

17 People said...

Storm, thanks for your tireless research. As I texted you confused it with the re-authorization.

Long live Russ Feingold!

And thanks for clarifying you are my friend. lol.

Storm said...

What? Now I am confused.