Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sir Edward and Dr. Dean

Once again it has been some time since I've written. I'm seriously going to work on that.

But today there are a few stories about American Heroes that simply could not be overlooked

That's SIR Ted

Today, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown addressed a joint session of Congress (a rare honor afforded only to our closest friends... though he's the 5th UK PM to do so). In his speech, he announced that American hero, and long-time Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy would be granted an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II, saying:
"I hope that you will allow me to single out for special mention today one of your most distinguished senators, known in every continent and a great friend.

"Northern Ireland is today at peace, more Americans have health care, more children around the world are going to school and for all those things we owe a great debt to the life and courage of Senator Edward Kennedy.

"And so today, having talked to him last night, I want to announce that Her Majesty the Queen has awarded an honorary knighthood for Sir Edward Kennedy."

Specifically, Kennedy is being made an honorary Knight Commander in the Order of the British Empire for his contributions to U.S.-U.K. relations and for his work on the peace process in Northern Ireland. Because a non-honorary appointment requires an oath to the Queen, all those who are not citizens in a realm where the Queen is head of state are made honorary Knights. As such, technically Kennedy will not be able to use the "Sir" as a title before his name, but may use the post-nominal "KBE".

I say, if Gordon Brown can call him Sir Edward, the same goes for everyone. I look forward to him being addressed as such upon his return to the Senate.

Speaking of Sir Edward

Have I ranted yet about the Serve America Act? It's a major piece of legislation that is jointly sponsored by Senator Sir Edward Kennedy (or is it Sir Senator?) and Republican Orrin Hatch. The bill has almost 2-dozen sponsors and has gained momentum in recent weeks. It is notable that while it wasn't passed in the last session, Senators Obama, McCain, Clinton, and Majority Leader Reid were all among the major cosponsors.

The bill has been reintroduced and President Obama mentioned it in his speech to Congress last week as a national priority. The bill would create and expand national service projects like AmeriCorps, Vista, Teach For America, and other programs, while also creating/funding innovative new metrics for the impact of these projects. Specifically, it would nationalize America's Civic Health Index (a topic I've written about before) and provide a more clear year-by-year snapshot of civic engagement by making it part of the annual census. The National Conference on Citizenship has produced the CHI for the last several years, but this funding would allow for a greatly expanded version.

You can find more information on the Serve America Act here, at the Voices for National Service website, or here with ServiceNation.

Get involved, join the cause, pressure your elected officials. Sir Edward needs you!


Sir Edward aside, Howard Dean is clearly one of my greatest political influences. As a young turk in high school I eagerly joined the Deaniacs' 2003 Endless Summer Tour and I've been part of the movement to take my country back ever since.

In all seriousness, Howard Dean led a generational shift in American politics. He by no means did it alone, and he certainly is receiving little credit for his efforts, but I firmly believe in years to come his influence will begin to be fully appreciated. In 2002/2003, at a time when Democrats were cowering to Republicans on all issues in the wake of 9/11 and the bully-boy tactics being employed by Bush & Co, Dean was an unapologetic anti-war Democrat. He was ridiculed as a fringe element at first, until his campaign made unprecedented use of the internet and surged in the pre-primary hooplah. While his campaign eventually fizzled out (that scream...), his message of 'taking the country back', saying that he was representing the "Democratic wing of the Democratic party", revolutionizing the use of internet fundraising and social networking in campaigns -- all laid the groundwork for the Democratic resurgance we're enjoying now.

This is all even before his very successful stint as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee (a position he won controversially and without the tradiational backing of the party stalwarts). He used his 50 state strategy to lay the organizational groundwork for the party in coming elections -- a very controversial move at the time, especially with then-Congressman Rahm Emanuel. But no one can argue that those investments didn't pay off when looking at the vast gains in Congressional races or the unexpected states that turned Blue in the 2008 Presidential Election. Certainly Obama had a lot to do with it, but you can't give him sole credit for winning redder than red states like North Carolina.

I'm not the first person to gush for Dean, and I hope I'm not that last. In fact, there's a great must-read piece you can find here about Howard Dean being a latter-day Democratic Barry Goldwater; setting the stage for a resurchange in their party. But the point of this all is: Give Dean his due. He's not politically loved in insider Democratic circles, but the guy has done a heck of a job. And that's not even counting his stellar record as governor of Vermont...


I've got some more coming up later, but tis all for now. Feel free to comment or discuss any of the above named Heroes of the Republic.

1 comment:

Logan said...

If anyone other than a Kennedy had driven a car off a bridge, killing a girl, and then waited a day for the booze to wear off his breathe before talking to the cops, they would be in prison, not a knight.

But I guess that's how it goes with friends in high places.

PS: I like Howard Dean. He likes the 2nd amendment.