After a tribute video to him was played, Kennedy began, “My fellow Democrats, my fellow Americans, it is so wonderful to be here. And nothing is going to keep me away from this special gathering tonight.” Kennedy spoke about the need for change, “I have come here tonight to stand with you to change America, to restore its future, to rise to our best ideals and to elect Barack Obama president of the United States.”
Kennedy also spoke about his pet issue, health care, “This is the cause of my life. New hope that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American North, South, East and West, young, old will have decent health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege.” He also talked about the change that Obama offers, “Barack Obama will close the book on the old politics of race, gender and group against group and straight against gay. The hope rises anew, and the dream lives on!”
He also promised to be around in January to take his seat in the Senate, “Together we have known success and seen setbacks … but we have never lost our belief that we are all called to a better country and a newer world. I pledge to you that I will be there next January on the floor of the Senate.” The speech tonight was not necessarily about what was being said, but it was made powerful by who was saying it.
All I can say is that if the most respected man in the Senate and a legend among Democrats can’t motivate and rally his party, then the cause is lost. While watching it, I had the sense that we were watching a great fighter in his epic battle. This speech was a direct reflection of the attitude and spirit of Ted Kennedy. He is still looking forward, and dreaming of what America could be, instead of pining for what was.