Cesar Chavez, Ted Kennedy and Coretta Scott King
Senator Ted Kennedy is gone.
Reflecting on his passing, I found myself recalling the night of June 3, 1980. Watching the returns come in from that day’s New Mexico Democratic Primary, we learned that Kennedy had defeated Jimmy Carter, a sitting President – 46% to 42%.
Here’s an amazing factoid. The turnout in that primary twenty-nine years ago was 160,120. Contrast that with the last Democratic presidential primary held in New Mexico in 2000 (before the party switched to the caucus). In that one, just 144,902 turned out for the Gore-Bradley contest. You can look it up.
Indeed, the Kennedys always have held a special place in the hearts of many New Mexicans. To this day, I daresay that the number of JFK portraits hanging in New Mexico households, especially in the north, far exceeds per capita what you would find anywhere else in the land.
Throughout his public life, Ted Kennedy issued the trumpet call for liberal reform and economic justice. He fought the hard fight in the Senate for peace, civil rights and the environment. Most of the progressive legislation of the last 40 years bears his stamp.
He spoke to our hopes, not our fears.
And going back to the 1970s, Kennedy has stood taller than all the rest in his commitment to the fight for universal health care. In a recent Newsweek commentary, he called it, “The Cause of My Life.”
An essential part of our progressive vision is an America where no citizen of any age fears the cost of health care, and no employers refuse to create new jobs or cuts back on current jobs because of the high cost of providing health insurance.
-Senator Edward Kennedy, January 12, 2005
In times of tragedy and loss, his brother Robert turned for consolation to the Greek poets. So today, let us consider the words of one the earliest, Hesiod:
The best is he who calls men to the best.
And those who heed the call are likewise blessed.
But worthless who call not, heed not, but rest.
Goodbye, Senator Kennedy. We will not rest. “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”