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Sen. Ted Kennedy: The Liberal Lion of American Senate, Worthy of Emulation By Salisu Muhammad


“Kennedys have never known poverty but they have compassion for it.” These are the golden words of Sen. Kennedy in an attempt to describe the degree of compassion of his well established political clan in American history. To me, the highest aesthetic pleasure of politics goes hand in hand with progressive liberal values of decency, justice and equality for all human beings. Having born into the most liberal and one of the prominent American wealthiest dynasties, Edward Moor Kennedy (February 22nd, 1932- August 25th, 2009) occupies a natural space in terms of privileges, power and influence.

He was known as a youngest male child to former American diplomat and a Catholic power broker, Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., and equally a grandson of US representative and former Mayor of Boston, John Francis Fitzgerald from his maternal side. All Kennedy brothers shared an interesting philosophy that “Live each day as if it is your last.” Though they were serious in respective engagements but possessed a highly developed sense of fun. Ted was both a graduate of Harvard University and Virginia Law School respectively.

Sen. Kennedy comes into global lime-light at the age of 30 having elected into American Senate in November 1962 Special election held in his home town of Massachusetts. Therefore, he succeeded his elder brother, John F. Kennedy for the Senate seat after John being elected the first Catholic and youngest President ever of the United States. Since then, he rose to the top thereby becoming the second most senior member of the Senate and third longest continuously serving Senator in the United States history for spending nearly five decades.

He equally earns the respect and admiration of his fellow colleagues at the Capitol Hill especially for his crusade and his firm appeal of progressive thought. With his death, the era of three Kennedy brothers in American history came to an end. While giving his eulogy, the former American president, Sen. Barrack Obama says “giving the gift of time that his brothers were not, and he used that gift to touch as many lives and right as many wrongs as the years would allow.” Undoubtedly, Ted had a grace of time having buried all his Kennedy brothers. At the funeral of his brother in 1968, the Late Attorney General, Sen. Robert Francis Kennedy, he exposes his oratorical and poetic skills as he delivers one of the best speeches of his time.

With the brutal assassination of his two brothers, Uncle Ted remains the only most senior male Kennedy with broader responsibility to shoulder mostly for ensuring the realization of Kennedy’s dream. Caroline, a former ambassador to Japan and the only surviving child of the late President Kennedy describes Uncle Ted “as the most compassionate whose tight schedules had never denied him a chance to visit all the Kennedys at a time of both happiness and despair.” Despite series of disaster, he reaffirms his resilience and unshakeable commitment to freedom and secular progressive thought. He too shares the same philosophy with American journalist, Chris Matthews who opines “….that word “freedom” is not just in our documents; it is in our cow boy souls.” He spares no time and energy in challenging human rights violation across America and beyond. In his time, he and his staff wrote more than 300 Bills that were enacted into law: National Cancer Act of 1971, No Child Left Behind Act and Civil Rights Act of 1991 among many.


His concept of patriotism and loyalty would be better comprehended in words of House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi “Rooted in his deep patriotism, his abiding faith and his deep concern for the least among us, no one has done more than Sen. Kennedy to educate our children, care for our seniors and ensure equality for all Americans.”In his final days, I have personally remembered some of his words saying “Sen. Barrack Obama represents the future of America” at the presidential campaign rally of Obama for the
White House.

However, one of his major atrocities that questioned personal integrity and sincerity was a car accident at Chappaquiddick Island, with 28 year old Mary Jo K. Opechne. It was this tragedy that hindered his long time ambition of succeeding his brother as President in 1980. Kennedy can always be remembered for his courage, liberalism, unshakeable belief in American dream,
resilience at a time of despair and lastly his concern for humanity and equality act. He died on 25th August, 2009 at the age of 77, in Hyannis Port, a Kennedy’s compound. He finally laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery closed to his late brothers.

Salisu Mubarak Muhammad is a chairman of Kano State Movement for Bring Back Our Stolen Mandate

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