Anyone who saw Ted Kennedy address the DNC last night had to be impressed with the guy’s tenacity and fighting spirit. Clearly, this is a guy who loves his work and politics as much as he loves life itself.
But I was struck by how out-of-place his remarks seem in today’s world. This kind of pep talk rhetoric resonated decades ago but I couldn’t help but envision young viewers sitting there and hearing talk of “the dream” and wondering “what dream? What is this guy talking about?” Or, upon hearing that the “work begins anew,” wondering “work towards what?” Those of us who have been around a while know that he’s referring to the America that we remember, the nation that was once the world’s preeminent industrial power, the wealthiest and most admired nation on earth. That’s certainly not what young people see when they look around today.
Kennedy also spoke of “reaching our destination.” This phrase especially struck me because it highlights the single biggest failure of our nation’s leadership – a vision and a plan for getting there. What is our “destination” Ted? Is it a grossly overpopulated nation, like China or India? Because that’s where our immigration policy and lack of population management is taking us. Is it a bankrupt nation that has been sold off finance our debt? Because that’s where our trade policy is taking us. And all the while, you and your colleagues in the Senate and House have dithered with treating the symptoms of these problems while they steadily eat away at our nation’s economy and our quality of life.
It’s time for a new generation of politicians – ones with a real vision of a destination and a plan for how to get there. Whether they’re democrats or republicans or independents, I don’t care. But this nation is desperate for some real leadership.