Political Activism of Ted Kennedy

Introduction

Edward Moore Kennedy was born on 22 February 1932 in a prominent Irish-American family to Joseph P. Kennedy Senior and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy in Brookline, Massachusetts. He is the second longest-serving member of the Senate since his election in November 1962 in Massachusetts, a seat he has held up to now. His political activism throughout his political career has touched many, and his influence in the Democratic Party affairs is enormous. He is touted to be one of the pillars of the party. A lawyer by profession, his recognition began with the re-election of his senior brother John F. Kennedy as the Massachusetts senator where he was the campaign manager. His brother was to later contest for the US presidency in 1961, which he won but was assassinated in1963 while still in office. This paper looks at Ted’s political activism throughout his political career spanning over 45 years. His ideas and views are liberal to accommodate technology and changing times. The paper is divided into several sections to allow a deeper insight into some of the areas where his activities are most significant.

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Minimum wage

Ted has proved to be someone who is in touch with the troubles that befalls a common man financially and otherwise. In 2007, his long-time advocacy to raise the minimum wage culminated in the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which sought to increase minimum wages from $5.15 to $7.25 over a two-year period. In 1981, he was also among the initiators of the program to increase the minimum wage. This earlier call for minimum wage increases was targeted at the black minority who were not given the same amount of wages as their white counterparts despite the same job group. The latest Act also brought with its tax cuts for small businesses and a hike in taxes to the larger businesses. What does this mean to the commoner and electorate? He is someone aware and familiar with the situation on the ground despite having been brought up in a wealthy family. The common man can now feel that he has someone to identify with. This, I think, is the ideal position that any politician is supposed to take, being a servant of the people instead of being their boss.

Education

In 2001 he joined Bush and other politicians to enact the No Child Left behind Act. He, however, complained of having been hoodwinked as the Act did not provide on how to fund the program. What we see here is a man bent on the reality side of events and practicality of Acts and their actual completion instead of having the Americans give credit to their leaders for enacting and passing a bill that would not deliver the promises. This Act was initiated in light of the fact that some kids from poor families were unable to access college education in the world’s wealthiest country, which is a shame to the country. On this same issue of protecting our learning young adults, Ted, together with Richard Dublin, introduced the “Student Loan Sunshine Act,” which aims to protect students and parents from exploitation by private lenders who at times offer gifts to colleges as a way to secure loan business. The Act was arrived at after reports detailing the abuse of student and parent exploitation by the aforesaid lenders.

He said that going to college is hard, and students shouldn’t have to worry about being exploited when they take out student loans which the lenders offer. It’s obvious that some lenders are pulling out all the stops to woo colleges into buying their loan products which are usually attached with “good” offers. These inducements may be legal, but they’re wrong. They hamper the provision of students and their families with the help they need to afford college. As more and more students and families are turning to private and alternative loans, we need to make sure they’re being offered under the best terms possible, not because a lender has sought to make a convincing deal with a school.

Abortion

Ted has been an ardent pro-choice activist for the last three decades. Earlier on, he had been a pro-life activist. The change of thought came after Roe vs. Wade became law. He asserts that the best way to avoid back-alley abortions, which are very risky, is to legalize the whole issue so as to enable the involved access to proper medical care. His view on this matter arose from the fact that even when abortion is illegal, the rich are always able to access these illegal services in highly guarded private hospitals in secret. The best way forward for America as a country is to safeguard our future generation while by making abortion rare and at the same time making life comfortable for the living by offering them an opportunity to make a choice. Ted says that we should be more focused on the methods of avoiding situations that may necessitate an abortion rather than embroil ourselves in the debate whether to have it legalized or illegal. The fact that he is interested in avoiding the causal reasons for abortion shows he has the interest of women at heart.

Accountability

Ted is known to campaign against the nomination of persons he feels are not legible to government positions citing their past performance in leadership positions. His intent in doing so is basically to protect the ordinary American from abuse of office and his right to receive the correct level of service. His method of running his office has earned him favor with the Massachusetts electorate, as indicated by his re-election in seven consecutive Senate elections. He was, in fact, voted among the most active ten senators by the Times magazine in April 2006 and the most liberal in light of his support of same-sex marriage.

Bills in congress

Congress is charged with the responsibility of drafting bills and enacting them into laws as required by the constitution. As such, some members have come out as conscious of the common man’s plight, thus calling for the relevant bills to be enacted. Kennedy, a long-timer supporter of gun control, was instrumental in denouncing the Vitter Amendment, which restricted gun control to all disaster-stricken areas, such as during the Katrina hurricane in New Orleans. Ted has sponsored and co-sponsored many bills that touch on the day-to-day life of everyone in America.

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Political Advice

It would be fair enough to label political endorsements of people to office as political advice to the electorate. Since the beginning of his career, Ted has supported or opposed the appointment of some people to office. As of now, he has thrown his weight behind his fellow democrat Obama for the US presidency. Though his proposed candidates do not always win, his grassroots connections and general appeal to the masses have a huge effect on how the voters vote. Previously, he had endorsed Bob Dole and John Kerry for the US presidency.

Racism

Although this man has at times been accused of being a racist by some people, in my opinion, I wouldn’t name him one. First of all, it would be expected that being a racist, his endorsement of Barrack Obama would look misplaced. To prove these detractors wrong, he has several times accompanied his candidate of choice in campaign rallies. A true racist, as we have come to know them, will not go anywhere trusting a black man with such an office. If at all one was to be a racist in the mildest sense, he/she would campaign against the wrong race or be quiet about the whole issue. In 1987 he was against the nomination of Judge Robert Bork to the Supreme Court due to his record on abortion, civil rights, etc. In fact, he made a very influential speech at the floor of the senate-house to protest against the appointment, which was later reversed.

Conclusion

The most liberal senator of our times, as nicknamed by many, is facing a test on his influence in his party and America as a country. His political activism and grassroots connections are to be measured with the performance of his chosen candidate, Obama, as the November presidential elections have taken center stage in world politics.

References

Verta Taylor, Nancy Whittier, Leila J. Rupp, Feminist Frontiers” 7th edition, New York, McGraw Hill, 2006.

http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=K000105.  Web.

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