R.J. Matson, St. Louis Post Dispatch
There is an impulse to honor the dead by erasing the sharp edges of their life. To ensure they belong to all of us, and in doing, deprive them of the dignity conferred by their actual choices, their lonely stands, and their long work. But Ted Kennedy didn’t belong to all of us. He didn’t even belong to all Democrats. He was not of the party that voted for more than a trillion in unfunded tax cuts but cannot bring itself to pay for health-care reform. He was not of the party that fears the next election more than the next failure to help America’s needy. Rather, he belonged to the party of Medicare and Medicaid, the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Civil Rights Act and immigration reform. He belonged to the party that sought to advance the conditions and opportunities of the least among us. He was, as Harold Meyerson says, “the senior senator from Massachusetts and for all the excluded in American life.”
And he still is…
The process wasn’t the point. Nor were the people. Nor, even, was Ted Kennedy. Universal health care was the point. Helping the excluded, and the endangered, was the point.
And there are still no excuses — least of all his death. The loss of one man does not deny the moral urgency of achieving a “just society.” Those who would use Kennedy’s absence to explain their failure do terrible injury to his legacy. The cause of Kennedy’s life was not, after all, praise or compliments. It was, as he said, to “guarantee that every American…will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not just a privilege.”
He was a liberal. And some of us are still proud of the moniker. So, GOP please stop trying to claim he wouldn’t want a good healthcare bill. Stop pulling a ‘Wellstone.’ His memory will be honored by passing a good healthcare bill for all.
And a related note from Aimai:
In both cases [Paul Wellstone and Coretta Scott King] the left was lectured in how we are to understand the lives of our own members and we were ordered not to celebrate those lives, not to take up the banner of their causes, but to mourn quietly, secretly, almost shamefacedly. But funerals and memorials aren’t about something quiet, private, shameful. Death and Politics are both important parts of life. Funerals and memorials are places where we gather to be together and to pursue communal goals. We mourn, but we celebrate. We gather together to remember, and to plan to leap forward.
In America, as around the world there is a natural logic to the political and social use of the funeral. The end of one life is not the end of that person’s struggle. Sometimes its the key inflection point, the moment that the solitary struggle becomes public, or the moment that the lone voice, though stilled, is taken up….
I wish they [the right] were honest enough to acknowledge the fact that we all do the same thing: we celebrate that which we think is good, we fight for the continuance of policies that we want to see continued, and we use the lives and the deaths of our members to further those policies. Its human. Its Civil. Its Social. Its Public. These aren’t dirty words and they don’t dirty the memory of the deceased.