Ted Kennedy

If Sen. Edward Kennedy had been elected president in 1980, the United States would now have single-payer, universal health care and, quite possibly, a balanced budget. Instead, came Chappaquiddick, Jimmy Carter and the most expensive, least comprehensive, health care system in the industrialized world.
After an excruciating year battling brain cancer, Sen. Kennedy’s death was anticipated, but the inevitability of it produced no champion of ordinary people to fill the void.
Perhaps all of the health care legislation passed during the 47 years Kennedy served in the Senate earned his vote and flourished through his leadership. But he had many other interests created by his passion for lifting the quality of life for the ordinary Americans every politician pledges to serve, but many forget when they take the oath of office.
Here are but a few of initiatives he helped succeed: a federally funded program for victims of HIV/AIDS, health insurance for lower-income children and tax breaks to encourage the development of medicine for rare diseases, health insurance for children of the working poor, the landmark 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, Meals on Wheels for the elderly, abortion clinic access, family leave, and the Occupational Safety and Health Ad-ministration, the Associated Press story on his death reported.
He also was a key negotiator on legislation creating a Medicare prescription drug benefit for senior citizens, and a driving force for peace in Ireland and a persistent critic of the war in Iraq, the AP said.
Ted Kennedy — and all of his brothers and sisters — were children of privilege born to great wealth.
And he, like most of the rest of them, devoted their enormous energy, intelligence, political genius and persuasive powers to making life easier and richer for the ordinary American families who are the backbone of the country.
He, like they, were communitarians; that is, they believed that most of the nation’s challenges could be met most effectively by Americans working together through government.
They understood that taxes were the rent citizens paid to live in the world’s great democracy, though their own tax bills were enormous.
When he bowed out of the presidential race in 1980, Kennedy saluted his supporters with these flaming words which still burn bright: “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.”
Kennedy sketched a dream of a better future early in his career as he laid to rest his brother Robert in 1968: “My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.”
Today, more than 40 years later, Ted Kenney has earned that eloquent eulogy for himself.

— Emerson Lynn, jr.