Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lessons from Senator Kennedy

Ted Kennedy was wrong on almost every issue he encountered during his long career. From Medicare to Obamacare, the mining of Haiphong Harbor to the surge in Iraq, Judge Bork to Judge Alito, the Gentleman from Massachusetts was consistently on the side of more government at home, more wavering abroad, and more activism in court. As an intermittent resident of his state, I voted against him three times.

Yet I am indebted to Senator Kennedy for two very valuable lessons.

I learned the first lesson in second grade. Mr. Kennedy was running for re-election against businessman Josiah Spaulding and we held mock elections in school. Kennedy swept the class twenty-five to one. I was the one (so arguably I voted against Kennedy four times). After the votes were tallied, some of the larger boys tried unsuccessfully to find out who the dissenter was. No doubt they intended to do me some harm. That day I had a first hand demonstration of the benefits of the secret ballot.

I learned the second lesson more recently. Last month I attended a Tea Party Protest on the Boston Common. One of the organizers gave a speech in which he talked about the difficulties of bringing the event together. With a day to go before the protest, the City of Boston still had not issued a permit. The organizers called Senator Kennedy’s office for help – within hours they had the permit in their hands. That day I had a first hand demonstration of grace and fairness amid the most acrimonious and partisan debate in decades.

Rest in Peace, Edward M. Kennedy.


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