How has Washington changed?
Senator Edward M. Kennedy represented Massachusetts in the United States Senate for forty-six years. He was elected in 1962 to finish the final two years of the Senate term of his brother, Senator John F. Kennedy, who was elected President in 1960. Ted Kennedy was re-elected to seven full terms.
Throughout his career, Kennedy fought for issues that benefited the citizens of Massachusetts and the nation. His primary focus was making quality health care accessible and affordable to every American, but he was also active in education reform and immigration reform, raising the minimum wage, defending the rights of workers and their families, strengthening civil rights, assisting individuals with disabilities, fighting for cleaner water and cleaner air, and protecting and strengthening Social Security and Medicare.
Kennedy died after a long battle with brain cancer on August 25, 2009. He was 77.
Ted Kennedy: Well in some ways it’s altered. In some ways it’s changed. In other ways it’s remained the same. I think the programs change and times change, but values really don’t change. I mean people’s concern for other people; people’s understanding of what the Constitution is really about, and the Bill or Rights and their devotion to it.
Maybe changes that we see a time where we see those rights may be threatened more than they have been at other times; but in the concern that I see on the floor of the United States Senate, among Democrats, among Republicans, there is a very still core understanding and awareness that America is just not a land, but it is a promise; and that each time and each generation has to fulfill the challenges of the time and the promise of America.
I think when I first arrived in the United States Senate, it was primarily a knocking down walls of discrimination. We still have a ways to go, but we were looking then after passing Medicare, Medicaid, our education at that time.
Now there are different challenges, both in terms of trying to protect Constitutional rights and still in terms of education and healthcare, and also in terms of how we can end war. So the issues themselves might change. The institution itself has altered and changed.
Probably the most dramatic change has been sort of the power of money in politics. I’m a longstanding supporter of public financing. I think people ought to be accountable to their constituents and not accountable to the contributors. That’s still a battle that has to be worked through in the Congress.
But what is left now in terms of when I first arrived and now still is much more important than what divides us – what remains the same.
Recorded on: September 14, 2007
The ideals are still there, and so is the money, Senator Kennedy claims.
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