The Democratic Party paid homage at its convention Monday night to a Kennedy scion whose family values demand public service and who believed it was his duty as a senator to speak for the voiceless, not champion the causes of the already powerful.
The film clip played for the delegates showed Ted Kennedy, who is fighting for his life after being diagnosed with a brain tumor, on a sailboat, explaining his favorite pastime and his relationship with the sea.
This son of wealth could have done nothing more with his life than sail. But he descended from a family that gave so much to this country -- a son in World War II, two more to assassination - that he was compelled to perform for all of their names.
His service has always been to the basic values of the Democratic Party, that the American Dream should be for everyone, not just a few, not just the privileged, not just the Kennedys. And he has anointed Barack Obama as the successor to that legacy.
Kennedy's philosophy stands in stark contrast to Reagan-Bush-McCain values. Those Republicans worship the almighty dollar, the amassing of large quantities of dollars, and the claim that sufficient coins will trickle out of the pockets and down the legs of the wealthy to sustain the poor.
In fact, however, over the past 30 years, Republicans have put in place government programs that reverse the trickle process. So the way it actually works is that the tax dollars of the many trickle up to make the wealthy wealthier. Just one example: Corporations shortchange their pension plans to make the companies appear more profitable, so the CEOs gets large stock options. When the pensions failed, the workers got less and the taxpayers provided the funds through the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation. But the CEOs laughed all the way to the bank.
Lobbyists, paid by corporations and aided by Republicans with their "trickle down" philosophy, have established untold numbers of schemes like this in law to benefit the rich at the expense of the many.
They've been so successful that income disparity in this country has widened to the point that the 300,000 wealthiest make more money than the other 150 million wage earners put together. Remember, Republicans even opposed an increase in the minimum wage -- the first in nearly a decade -- from $5.15 an hour to a measly $7.25 an hour.
There's no doubt the Kennedys are wealthy. But they're Democrats. They don't believe in trickle down. Here's what Ted Kennedy said Monday night, "This is a season of hope. . .of justice and prosperity for the many, not just for the few."
He mentioned the decline in health insurance coverage, a problem he has long struggled to resolve. "This is the cause of my life," he told the delegates. Gridlock must be broken, he said, so every American can have decent quality healthcare as a fundamental right, not a privilege.
This from a man who left his hospital bed in Massachusetts in July to travel to Washington, D. C. to break a stalemate on stalled Medicare legislation. An earlier balloting had fallen one vote short of passage of the bill to prevent a scheduled 10.6 percent cut to physicians who treat Medicare patients.
Obama was at Kennedy's side when he entered the Senate for the first time since his brain surgery on June 2.
Taking a different path, McCain did not bother to show up for the vote on the legislation crucial to senior citizens.
A scion as well, McCain is the son and grandson of admirals. He had much to live up to, and after a less-than-distinguished stint at the Naval Academy, served with honor in Vietnam.
Afterward, he returned to the states, where, he concedes to philandering, cheating on a wife who'd cared for their children while he'd been held captive for nearly five years and who, herself, had been terribly injured in a car accident.
While in Hawaii, and still married, John McCain, the "family values" political party's presumptive nominee, met Cindy Lou Hensley, the beer distribution heiress 17 years his junior who is now his second wife.
Today, John McCain's wealth equals a Kennedy's. The McCain-Hensley fortune is estimated at $100 million.
And he likes to flash it. He's been wearing $520 Ferragamo loafers on the campaign trail - even to a supermarket where he talked about the tough economy -- the failing economy brought on this country by eight years of the Bush Administration.
Cindy Lou bought him a private jet to help him get around Arizona when campaigning there because it's such a big state, and she didn't want him to have to drive, like a normal person, or anything.
And then there are the McCain homes. None in foreclosure, by the way. Seven in all. Too many for John to count apparently. When asked just how many houses he owned, he hesitated, then told a reporter he'd have an aide count them up and get back with those weighty statistics.
That sort of absentminded elitist air would be one thing, but the real distinction is his philosophy. He believes the rich, like him, should stay rich. And too bad for the middle class, which is supporting that wealth.
This guy espouses Bush's tax cuts for the rich. He wants to make permanent those tax cuts that the wealthy didn't ask for and don't even need -- tax cuts that have significantly worsened the national debt, thus weakening the economy and confidence in Wall Street.
At the same time, John McCain plans to create a new tax - on your middle class health care benefits - if you're one of those lucky enough to still have them.
Tax cuts for the rich. New taxes for the middle class.
This is not a Kennedy. This is definitely not a man who works, as Caroline Kennedy said at the convention of her uncle, Ted Kennedy, to champion the cause of those left out, the poor, the elderly, those without education.
John McCain is no Ted Kennedy. And because of what he believes, John McCain is not someone the middle class can afford to elect president.