Honoring the Liberal Lion

Since learning of Ted Kennedy’s death, the media has respectfully and appropriately honored his life and the impressively long list of his important accomplishments.   Despite his human flaws (some of which seemed at odds with his values), I remain inspired by this larger-than-life man who proudly earned the title, “the Liberal Lion of the Senate.”   In an era when the word, “liberal” has been tainted, bashed and abused, Ted Kennedy held to the values inherent in liberal thinking.    I am so grateful for him for that, and hope that others will courageously and proudly follow his impressive lead.

Many democratic and left-leaning politicians have moved toward the center, fearful that being called a liberal would harm their chances of being elected or re-elected.  Many politicians with liberal positions often tap dance around those very positions in order to placate their opponents.  Ted Kennedy never wavered in his liberal stand — and, in fact, was successful in achieving all that he did because there was no doubt what he stood for.  He listened to all perspectives, was revered by his opponents and was a long-standing influential leader of the democratic party, Senate and nation because of his beliefs not despite them.

I respectfully offer just three (of the many, many possible) powerful lessons from his life about leadership:

  1. Proudly and consistently stand for something beyond your own interests and glory, and then tirelessly work for what you believe.
  2. Communicate about those beliefs with passion and clarity.
  3. Master the art of influence — including genuinely caring about others and sincerely listening with respect.

Here’s to you, Ted Kennedy!  Thank you!

2 Responses to “Honoring the Liberal Lion”

  1. Beryl:

    Thank you for this beautifully written tribute to Senator Kennedy. My big take away from Senator Kennedy, which you so wonderfully noted in your blog, is that when you are passionate about something, you need to become a champion of that cause, working for what you believe. I think a lot of people do not have the courage to stand up for their ideals in the face of opposition. It is precisely that environment, where people take a position and then begin to waver once they sense opposition, that has given rise to some of the most unpleasant moments in our history.

    If you can combine that passion and clarity of thought with the talent to influence others, as Senator Kennedy did so well, you have the ability to move mountains. It is so important to stand up for what you believe and to stand consistently for those values, while always listening listening listening to your opponents perspective. Sometimes the greatest ideas are borne from incorporating the ideas of others.

  2. Buddy Gottlieb says:

    Nicely put, Beryl! We don’t have nearly enough courageous politicians in office these days, and we frankly have too many wingnuts who revel in their successful intimidation tactics (e.g., teabagging, lying about “death panels” etc., and now, denying their children the experience of hearing the president encourage them to stay in school for fear that Obama’s (not quite!) socialist ideals might somehow filter through to them and taint them! The trouble with this country, if I may be so bold, is that Reagan and his Repub sycophants have managed to change the discussion from how can we help the least fortunate (with the answer often being through the government) to, instead, how can we get government “out of the way”, which only leads to greater inequality and hardship for some, including the many who are not covered by health insurance.

    I must add a plug here in this context: my spouse, Marcy Winograd, is running for Congress in the 36th CA Congressional District against Jane Harman, a Blue Dog who needs to be shown the door in the Democratic primary! She has always been true to her very progressive ideals. Check out her campaign at winograd4congress.com.

    Good to hear from you and to get at least some idea what you’re up to!

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