The reluctant Bay-Stater:

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A tribute to the liberal lion
Posted Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - 5:34pm

On Aug. 26, 2009, I awoke, along with the rest of the American people, to hear the news that Sen. Edward Kennedy had passed away. As unexpected as the news was the feeling of ambivalence which accompanied it.

You see, being a native Bay-Stater, Sen. Kennedy was one of two senators I ever knew growing up, representing the great "Commonwealth." The most potent symbol of power in the state, he was the undoubted ruler of a dynasty, built up from a combination of his family name and his own political prowess.

He was bigger than life and the embodiment of everything that made a powerful politician, the bad along with the good, but in my young eyes, mostly the bad.

There's a common misconception that Massachusetts has little else but wild eyed rabid democrats. While there may have been one or two that I knew, I was raised by a predominantly conservative Mormon family and most of the people they associated with were of similar political persuasions.

Kennedy was a notorious figure to my early years and references to him in conversation were ripe of stories from old money made from Irish mob bootlegging all the way to implications in Mary Jo Kopechne's death on Chappaquiddick.

My favorite joke was that I still hadn't met anyone who actually voted for the man. He was the arch enemy, a man who embodied everything I didn't stand for. Taking the time to research his positions was the last thing that crossed my mind, and I'm embarrassed to say that I stayed that ignorant for quite awhile.

Then something happened, I grew older. The world began showing me that things were less black and white than I had expected. Though I am far from a card carrying democrat, I am finally mature enough to realize that even though I still don't agree with many things that the man proposed, he was no less of a great politician; a man who worked tirelessly to give disadvantaged minorities more opportunities to live the American dream.

As a member of one of those minority groups, I owe a debt to Kennedy. I thank him for what he believed in, and what he strove to do. And so in the silence of this night, for perhaps the first time in my life, I want to say how proud I am to have been his constituent.

The Liberal Lion. My senator.

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