I meant to post this much earlier but my internet connection was having problems and I sadly left this as a draft.
“This is the cause of my life,” Ted Kennedy wrote. “For four decades I have carried this cause — from the floor of the United States Senate to every part of this country. It has never been merely a question of policy; it goes to the heart of my belief in a just society.”
Kennedy was talking about health care. But then, Kennedy was always talking about health care. He was talking about it when he helped pass Medicare and Medicaid in the ’60s. When he tried to reach a deal with Richard Nixon in the ’70s. When he made it the center of his challenge to Jimmy Carter in the ’80s. When he created the Children’s Health Insurance Program in the ’90s. When he directed his staff to begin educating senators and stakeholders for President Obama’s effort late last year.
There is an impulse to honor the dead by erasing the sharp edges of their life. To ensure they belong to all of us, and in doing, deprive them of the dignity conferred by their actual choices, their lonely stands, and their long work. But Ted Kennedy didn’t belong to all of us. He didn’t even belong to all Democrats. He was not of the party that voted for more than a trillion in unfunded tax cuts but cannot bring itself to pay for health-care reform. He was not of the party that fears the next election more than the next failure to help America’s needy. Rather, he belonged to the party of Medicare and Medicaid, the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Civil Rights Act and immigration reform. He belonged to the party that sought to advance the conditions and opportunities of the least among us. He was, as Harold Meyerson says, “the senior senator from Massachusetts and for all the excluded in American life.” <emphasis min @angol>