The election of 1980 was the first one in which I was old enough to understand what was going on. I wasn’t a big fan of President Carter, and I really hoped that Ted Kennedy would defeat him in the primaries and secure the Democratic nomination.
As it turned out, that didn’t happen… and it was a good thing. As a result of losing the nomination, Senator Kennedy found the place where he could best serve the public… and it was in the Senate seat he already held. Over four and a half decades he secured voting rights, funding for AIDS treatment, equity for Americans with disabilities. He fought apartheid in South Africa. He kept the push for national health care alive even though twice defeated in 1971 and 1993. He became the de facto opposition leader during the conservative era that lasted from approximately 1981 to 2008. In the last years of his life he served as a political father figure to Barack Obama and other leaders of the next generation. Even those who disagreed with his politics could not argue that the man was placed on this Earth to serve others, especially the poor and less fortunate.
Rest in peace, Senator Kennedy. Our nation is so much stronger because of you.
Check out Kennedy’s Wikipedia page for a biography.