I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the rancor of the 1980 campaign between he and Jimmy Carter, and about all of the leadership that Kennedy has put in since then on the issues that so many others before him had marginalized — on women’s issues, civil rights, mobility and access, health care and workplace rights and labor.
It seems that so much of his historic career has been shaped by those conversations on the campaign trail detailed in his amazing speech given to the Democratic National Convention at a time when the party was rent asunder among the leadership and the rank and file alike.
From the speech:
I have listened to young workers out of work, to students without the tuition for college, and to families without the chance to own a home.
I have seen the closed factories and the stalled assembly lines of Anderson, Indiana and South Gate, California, and I have seen too many, far too many idle men and women desperate to work.
I have seen too many, far too many working families desperate to protect the value of their wages from the ravages of inflation.
Yet I have also sensed a yearning for a new hope among the people in every state where I have been.
And I have felt it in their handshakes, I saw it in their faces, and I shall never forget the mothers who carried children to our rallies.
I shall always remember the elderly who have lived in an America of high purpose and who believe that it can all happen again.
Tonight, in their name, I have come here to speak for them. And for their sake, I ask you to stand with them. On their behalf I ask you to restate and reaffirm the timeless truth of our Party.
I congratulate President Carter on his victory here.
I am — I am confident that the Democratic Party will reunite on the basis of Democratic principles, and that together we will march towards a Democratic victory in 1980.
And someday, long after this convention, long after the signs come down and the crowds stop cheering, and the bands stop playing, may it be said of our campaign that we kept the faith.
May it be said of our Party in 1980 that we found our faith again.
And may it be said of us, both in dark passages and in bright days, in the words of Tennyson that my brothers quoted and loved, and that have special meaning for me now:
"I am a part of all that I have met
To [Tho] much is taken, much abides
That which we are, we are —
One equal temper of heroic hearts
Strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."
For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end.
For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.
The words still ring true today — that we have not resolved these issues is telling of just how far we have to go as a party and as a nation. And how much work we all have to do between now and November to remember the important ties that bind us together — in purpose, in commitment and in action.
Keep on fighting, Teddy…