Not too long ago, there was a conversation between some of us political bloggers; it went on across the country and across state lines. We talked about this: How long do you think it will be before somebody on the right takes Ted Kennedy’s memorial service, and what will inevitably be said there, and trashes it like they did Paul Wellstone’s?
That struck me. I count two things as the engines behind everything I’m doing in politics right now. Howard Dean’s What I want to know … speech. And the massive arena celebration of the lives of Paul & Sheila Wellstone. Sen. Wellstone was not perfect; he was not angelic. But what he was, was brave. An ordinary, everyday guy with a Minnesota Senate seat.
Ted Kennedy was a very different guy. Tried most of his life to connect with the ordinary. And you bet there’s going to be an effort to remind grieving congressional Democrats that health care was the cause of Kennedy’s life. They’d better damn well pass it. And there’s no way the right will not challenge that.
The answer to that question – How long? – is now. Today, Rush Limbaugh ridiculed Wellstone’s memorial, that arena brimming with people who knew early that change was coming, and there was work to be done. Forward-thinkers, progressives, and fearless local organizers. There was more loss, and backlash, before there was winning. But that memorial – those people, those speeches – meant everything to me. And I can’t just sit and listen to what was just said on the radio, without saying this:
Paul Wellstone didn’t die. Not like they wanted him to.
He’s now called Wellstone Action.
He’s called Democracy for America.
You can call him the 2008 Senate, House & White House, if progressive.
He’s called Barack Obama. Called Michelle Obama. Aim higher, he’d say.
He is called first-time voters, and change.
Canvasser. Phonebanker. Local organizer.
He’s called Organizing for America. PDA.
They call him janitor, and educator, and factory worker. New immigrant.
He is called the Congressional Black Caucus, and Progressive Caucus.
He’s the survivors of Hurricane Katrina, and those who didn’t made it.
He’s a first-time candidate, who thinks politics isn’t about winning, it’s about improving people’s lives.
He’s not going to let up on Marriage Equality.
He demands the public option.
He’s called the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.
And he’s called 50-State Strategy.
He is called Loretta Weinberg.
Paul Wellstone is called Senator Al Franken now.
And he’s called Blue Jersey.
Take that, Rush Limbaugh. You disrespectful son of a bitch.