Vermont Conversation: Ted Kennedy and the liberal moment

Sen. Ted Kennedy rode his brothers’ coattails into the Senate in 1962, but later became the leading voice of American liberalism, says author Neal Gabler.

The Vermont Conversation with David Goodman is a VTDigger podcast that features in-depth interviews on local and national issues with politicians, activists, artists, changemakers and citizens who are making a difference. Listen below, and subscribe on Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts or Spotify to hear more.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, who died in 2009, was an iconic figure in American politics, part of an American political dynasty that has been rocked by fame and tragedy. Compared to his brothers Robert F. Kennedy and President John F. Kennedy, Ted was considered a lightweight, who rode their coattails into the Senate in 1962 at the age of 30. Neal Gabler, author of the new biography, “Catching the Wind: Edward Kennedy and the Liberal Hour, 1932-1975,” says that following the assassinations of his brothers, Ted Kennedy became the leading voice of American liberalism, championing the war on poverty, civil rights and the antiwar movement. But his moral authority and his presidential ambitions were seriously damaged by his involvement in a fatal car accident on Chappaquiddick Island in 1969.

The Kennedy family saga marked a milestone this year: Joe Kennedy III, grandson of RFK, lost to incumbent Sen. Ed Markey in a primary, becoming the first Kennedy ever to lose a Massachusetts election. Could this spell the end of the Kennedy dynasty? Gabler says that’s possible “if the country doesn’t want to give voice to the voiceless or power to powerless.”

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David Goodman

About David

David Goodman is an award-winning journalist and the author of a dozen books, including four New York Times bestsellers that he co-authored with his sister, Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman. His work has appeared in Mother Jones, New York Times, Outside, Boston Globe and other publications. He is the host of The Vermont Conversation, a VTDigger podcast featuring in-depth interviews about local and national topics. The Vermont Conversation is also an hour-long weekly radio program that can be heard on Wednesday at 1 p.m. on WDEV/Radio Vermont.

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