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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The torch has been passed...

The irony is heavy: on the day the world learns Ted Kennedy has a malignant brain tumor, the voters of Oregon eliminate what little doubt remains that Barack Obama will become the Democratic nominee for president.

The torch passed to John F. Kennedy 48 years ago -- and which was only briefly held by his brother Robert -- will now move on the Obama. The 46-year-old senator from Illinois will now be the leading symbol of the progressive ideals of this nation.

No, this is not a premature obituary for Kennedy -- a fighter who has overcome many but not all obstacles in his path. But the patriarch of the clan has a much bigger fight on his hands than passing legislation, or even carrying a vision.

The Kennedy in the family picture in the linked Boston Globe story doesn't exude his usual strength and determination. There seems something strained in the smile -- a brave front put on for the camera.

So it may be time for him to at least delegate the task of leading the charge for freedom, equality and justice in a nation that seems to clearly have lost its way under the "leadership" of George W. Bush.

His legacy can be best seen in the exhilarating fact that an African-American man will receive that torch, When JFK took up the cause, that dream was still several years away from even being voiced by Dr. Martin Luther King. It took a great deal of struggle -- and much pain and blood -- some of it shed in states that are the focus of this year's primary election battles.

And it is just as much time for Hillary Clinton to recognize the obvious -- continuation of her own historic effort will only continue to divide the party as it works to overcome the forces that stand in the way of progressive and humanitarian solutions to the nation's and the world's many ills.

Obama captured that reality in his remarks:
"No matter how this primary ends, Senator Clinton has shattered myths and broken barriers and changed the America in which my daughters and yours will come of age."
Clinton has revealed the deep fissures that afflict the Democratic coalition built by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and nurtured by JFK and Ted Kennedy. White working class voters have been used as political pawns by the Republican Party, which has come up with one wedge issue after another to create a culture war to distract voters from their economic interests.

It's long past time for Democrats to unite and show they reflect the needs of average Americans better than the party of George Bush and Newt Gingrich.

Do it for Ted.

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