“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.” —Teddy Kennedy, 1980 Democratic National Convention
Tears streamed down the face of Lupita Maurer as she and other delegates to the Democratic National Convention cried and laughed and cheered for the Democratic icon who was not in Charlotte.
“He was always there for us, always there for our party,” said the Democratic National Committee member from Oregon. “It’s as if he couldn’t leave us. He had to come back to help us beat Mitt Romney.”
More than thirty years after Edward Kennedy gave voice to the passionate hope of grassroots Democrats that their’s could be a progressive party, more than four years after he recalled the “dream shall never die” message at the convention that nominated Barack Obama for president, more than three years after his death, the senator from Massachusetts again electrified a Democratic National Convention.
Not in person, of course. But via a remarkable video that provided an unexpected emotional highpoint on the first night of the party’s three-day convention.
On a night that featured more than its share of powerful speeches—from the keynote by San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro to the impassioned addresses of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and equal-pay activist Lilly Ledbetter and first lady Michelle Obama’s strikingly liberal closing remarks—Kennedy delivered.
“Teddy! Teddy! Teddy!” the crowd that packed the convention hall chanted, as if it was 1968 or 1980 or 2008, when the ailing “Lion of the Senate” made a surprise appearance to celebrate the nomination of a Kennedy favorite who was born just a year before the senior senator’s election to fill his brother John’s US Senate seat.
Kennedy’s early embrace of Barack Obama’s candidacy gave the young contender a significant boost in his race with Hillary Clinton for the 2008 Democratic nomination. It also created a connection between the Democratic Party’s Kennedy ideal and the Obama presidency; a connection that would be solidified with the signing of the Affordable Care Act and the realization of at least a portion of Kennedy’s national healthcare dream.