What Conservatives Can Learn From Senator Ted Kennedy

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

As we all know by now, Senator Ted Kennedy passed away this morning.

Politically, I agreed with Ted Kennedy on almost nothing. I staunchly opposed his notion of the role of government, his interpretation of the Constitution, and even his behavior on the Senate floor at times. I felt that he strayed far away from the classical liberalism espoused by his brothers John and Bobby. Ted Kennedy's vision of America was not my vision of America.

Be that as it may, Ted Kennedy always held true to his principles, no matter how much any of us disagreed with them. He was a principled big government modern liberal; one who believed in the state and its role in our lives. As wrong as I believe this view is, it was his, and he never strayed from it.

Over the last 20 years, and the last 4 in particular, "conservatives" have done something entirely unprincipled. With a few exceptions, they have ceased to behave like conservatives. Ted Kennedy never stopped behaving like a liberal.

I can probably count on one hand the number of true principled conservative senators who adhered to their beliefs as well as Kennedy adhered to his. Kennedy got things done, and he got them done by sticking to his principles. The fact that I believe those principles were destructive is a moot point. His adherence to them gave him enormous influence over the legislative process in America.

Conservatives should take note. Principles matter. They matter in shaping the nation's laws, and also their execution and application. Had conservatives, particularly those in the legislature, held to their principles the way Senator Kennedy did, the American political landscape would look very different today indeed.


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