Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Carrying the Torch

With the passing of Sen. Edward Kennedy, my heart sank, even as I knew his passing was imminent. When his brother John F. Kennedy said that "the torch has passed to a new generation of Americans", who would have thought that his little brother Teddy would have been the one who carried that torch most effectively. Despite character flaws that afflict all of us, Ted made a real and significant contribution to our country. For those of us who see through the pretty packaging to see the callous and disturbed reality of American conservatism, we've lost an eloquent ally.

For those who want to understand that callous and disturbing reality of American conservatism, I invite you to go to and read the comment section regarding the death of Sen. Kennedy. Also look at how those comments are received by the Utahns who frequent that news outlet. I would love to say that I am astonished, but the sad reality is that I've come to expect it. One reason I have stopped posting so much is that I've lost faith and heart in my fellow Utahns. I've seen too much anger, entitlement, and sheer ignorance for me to stomach. Perhaps a lesson I can learn from his experience is maintaining optimism in the face of so much loss.

In 1980, I cast my first vote for President of the United States. It wasn't at a polling place, but at what we now refer to as a "precinct caucus". I voted for Ted Kennedy over Jimmy Carter, whom I felt had showed a lack of leadership and had given into conservatives on too many issues. Ted was unashamed of his liberalism, even more so than I was. Politically, I was more moderate, but I admired Kennedy for his leadership and for his sticking to his guns. The conservative movement, led by Ronald Reagan, and nourished by tax protesters, and other fringe groups threatened the progress that had been made in civil rights, equal opportunity and environmental responsibility. In this environment, a vote for Ted seemed the prudent choice.

I still remember the dirty looks I got with my Kennedy bumper sticker back in 1980. Alot of people told me I was number one on their list with hand gestures. I was heart-broken when Kennedy lost the nomination yet doubly determined after Kennedy gave his great and compelling convention speech. Despite setback after setback here in the hornet's nest, that flame continued in the depths of my soul, to try to make a difference in the public realm. I have continued my involvement in politics, but have felt lately like that flame was beginning to die. The senseless futility of trying to reason with birthers and their lot, is just not worth it.

Ted Kennedy fought the good fight, but he did it with a grace I've never possessed and never will. His advesaries acknowledged his effectiveness and his genuine sincerity. He carried his brother's torch for my entire lifetime. I can only hope that I can regain enough heart to try to carry my part of that torch, that the vision of a more just and rational society, is not not just an illusion, but a real possibility for our Republic.

Rest in peace Ted. You've earned it.