Ted Kennedy and the Future of Liberalism

Ted Kennedy was much, much more than the liberal leader in Congress. He was all we had left. Even in sickness, he was the anchor for decent health care reform. He was the one man in Congress who could pull quarreling politicians into a united effort. John McCain and Orrin Hatch were among Kennedy’s best friends.

With Kennedy gone, we are at the mercy of a weak, squabbling, visionless Democratic party and a President whose domestic reform policies are adrift–sliding towards the horizon with each passing day: The lost battle for Afghanistan. (Seriously– the British, then the Soviets, and now us?) The phony victory on Wall Street, one bubble replacing another. Health care reform being taken over by right-wing screwballs at the town meetings. The very idea that amidst all this, Obama is vacationing on a huge estate on Martha Vineyard’s is smack out of the George Bush playbook (except that with W, it was the Texas chainsaw vacation).

So,without Kennedy, even as a shadow in the background, who will be the point men for health care reform? Max Baucus, pawn of the health care industry? Christopher Dodd, bag man for Wall Street? Lieberman, turncoat? Harry Reid,who he?  To be sure there are decent senators–Dorgan, Conrad, Rockefeller, Levin, Harkin, Leahy. And even the Vice President, even when he can’t keep his mouth shut. But not one of them with the knowledge, experience, and political acumen of Kennedy.

The flag will be at half mast across the country today. But not on Wall Street or in corporate boardrooms, where as the sun goes over the yardarm, you’ll be hearing (figuratively, at least) the popping of corks.

One response to “Ted Kennedy and the Future of Liberalism

  1. Here is an interesting idea for creating a public option along the lines of existing American institutions.It comes from Wes Dodge of Sarasota
    Socialism, in some cases, has worked well for the U.S. Consider the free public library or free public education. Why not learn from our experience with the Morrill Act and the land grant colleges which made our country so outstanding in agriculture that it became the envy of the world?
    Here is one idea:
    As part of a public option, create a nationwide system of health clinics and laboratories where people can go to have their health care needs met.
    Create federal academies similar to West Point, the Naval Academy, the Air Force Academy, the Coast Guard Academy, the Merchant Marine Academy, etc. These institutions will train doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians and other related technicians who will be prepared to take care of the over forty million people who are not now covered by our current health care system. When these trainees graduate from college, they will be selected by their congressman to matriculate in these academies to become doctors and other qualified health personnel. Like those students at our other federal academies, they will be in government service and federal government employees. Upon graduation from the academies, they will serve in the clinics, federal hospitals, military and naval hospitals and units and Veterans Administration hospitals. Like the military, these trained health people will serve at the pleasure of the government in much the same way as the graduates of West Point or Annapolis, i.e., until their obligation is satisfied. As stated previously, this aspect of the suggested reform is designed to provide for the public option for which the current administration is striving. The clinics cited above and the people being trained would also be available to assist the Veterans Administration needs and also military and naval hospitals. Those Americans who avail themselves of this public option would be expected to pay according to their economic situation.
    [The idea also include provisions for limiting suits against doctors and would allow people who now have doctors they like continue with them as well as maintaining their private insurance policies.]
    Financing this suggested system: Like patriotic activities in the past, the government would finance the program by selling savings bonds to the public in much the same way as it did in financing World Wars I and II. . Like the bonds during World War II, they should range from $25 up to $1,000. But, there should be a system of savings stamps where the poor could save in dollar amounts up to where they would exchange the stamps for a $25 bond. The government could pay off the bonds in limited amounts annually depending on the current financial situation.–Wes Dodge

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