Ezra Klein does a wonderful job of describing what Ted Kennedy means to liberals, to Democrats and to Americans.
Kennedy is the most effective, dogged, determined, and skilled liberal legislator in the Senate. He's one of the few Senators who is genuinely irreplaceable, whose absence would degrade the nation's social policy, and thus the life chances and economic security of millions of its disadvantaged residents. Without Kennedy, we wouldn't have the Americans with Disabilities Act, S-CHIP, the Family and Medical Leave Act, or any of a hundred other crucial pieces of legislation. Without Kennedy, it's hard to imagine passing universal health care. Without Kennedy, it's hard to imagine passing paid family or medical leave. Without Kennedy, it's hard to imagine our country becoming more decent or just or humane.
The sadness that I expressed before goes far beyond a sense of tragedy for the family or a feeling of loss from one Irish Catholic Democrat who has drawn inspiration from another. Ted Kennedy, for all of his faults and foibles, has made a difference in the everyday life for millions of Americans. Kennedy represents an unapologetic belief in social justice, moral courage and political bravery that has been sorely lacking in our politics for far too long.