Thursday, August 27, 2009
“........and the dream shall never die.” Edward Kennedy 1932-2009
Even though we all knew that serious illness would take his life, it was still a shock to wake up to the news that Senator Edward Kennedy had died. Less charismatic than his two brothers he may have been, but in over 40 years in the American Senate he achieved so much, always motivated by a burning desire to help the underprivileged, and at the same time make society freer and fairer.
In common with those great English and Welsh Liberals, Gladstone and Lloyd George, he had flaws, more publicised in the age of international mass media. His Liberalism never wavered but Ted always knew that politics was the art of the possible, and to get things done compromise with your opponents is often necessary.
The quote above comes from his speech he made to the 1980 Democratic convention conceding defeat. I remember it at the time, but even more clearly I remember these words from the address he gave (whilst fighting back tears) at his brother Bobby's funeral in 1968:
“My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it......As he said many times, in many parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him:
"Some men see things as they are and say why.
I dream things that never were and say why not."
It was this inspiration to ask 'why not' that led me into Liberal politics, and keeps me there. Edward Kennedy retained his optimism though his life, he inspired many thousands of people who never met him, and he can rest in peace now. His dream shall never die.