The Problem with "Do It for Teddy"

Let me begin this post by saying that I have always liked Ted Kennedy and have an almost unlimited respect for him as a politician, a statesman, and a legislator. I was saddened by his death, and I have voted for him each time he’s run for senator (“run” is not really a good word, I don’t think anyone seriously challenged him, and he usually won his seat by a landslide). That said, and as anyone who reads this knows, I disagreed with much of his ideology and had problems with how “far left” he was on many issues. But when the amnesty bill was front and center (both before and after he and McCain drafted their bill), I wrote to him at his office and expressed my concerns about granting amnesty to illegal immigrants. I was dumbfounded to receive a personal response from the senator and not some “form” letter like the ones sent out by my representative to the House of Representatives (John Kerry’s office doesn’t even bother with those!). He was a “real” representative of the people, and even though his personal ideology was far left, he listened. He compromised. (well, most of the time)

Okay, I wasn’t going to wax on so much about him, but I really did like him a great deal. Anyway, now there is a push to pass this travesty of a healthcare “reform” bill for Senator Kennedy, in his memory or some such twaddle. The man has wanted universal healthcare since the ’60’s, and he’s not once changed his mind about that or waffled on it or misrepresented his stance (like someone I could mention); he worked hard to pass legislation that would help people who couldn’t help themselves, and I admire that. But he knew that we, the people, don’t want universal healthcare run by the government, and though he didn’t like it, he did recognize that our country is right of center on most issues. To say that we need to pass this now in his memory is just mind-blowing. If we wanted it, we would have “done it for Teddy” twenty years ago, forty years ago, fifty years ago.

Senator Kennedy was a great force in the Senate and without him, much of the social good that the government has done over the past almost fifty years would almost certainly not have been done, but what he did, what he contributed, was a vision so far left of most of the country that the crazies on the far right had to move closer to center, as did Senator Kennedy himself. That’s how our government is supposed to work, not some tiny segment of the far left OR the far right dictating policy.

If you want to do something for Teddy, try modeling your behavior on his. Try dignity and humor and thoughtfulness. Try working with the right, as he is famous for doing on so many issues. Try respecting viewpoints that differ from your own. Try being gracious enough not to attack people who disagree with you or your politics–to call them names, and try to silence them. Try understanding that “my way or the highway” is the exact opposite of Senator Kennedy’s mentality and of his approach to legislation. Try remembering that this man, this Lion of the Senate, did not compromise his principles, ever. He did not waver and back peddle and engage in outright deceit and phony pretense as this joke of a president does every day of his life. Kennedy is someone to admire, whatever you think of his politics; BO is someone to revile because he hides his true agenda and beliefs the second he finds out that they aren’t “popular.”

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