Ted Kennedy, George Floyd and the problems of privilege
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Ted Kennedy, George Floyd and the problems of privilege

Power and privilege -- the heart of both the Chappaquiddick saga and Floyd's death -- go beyond race.
Daylilies, Plattsburg, MO, 2009.

Chappaquiddick was 51 years ago today.

The easy lob would be some cheap shot at Ted Kennedy. You know that song; no point repeating the lyrics.

So why bring it up? Because Mary Jo Kopechne's death 51 years ago and George Floyd's killing on a Minneapolis street share some common threads.

Both tragedies were immediate political fodder, the victims reduced to feedstock in service of rhetoric, political leverage and money.

Both assailants could tap into institutional power and connections for protection. They weren't equal under the law before or during their worst moments.

And of course, neither victim had to die. These weren't acts of God. They were fatal decisions made by people we -- the societal we -- elevated to power and expected better of.

And that gets us to today.

Right now, we're debating privilege, power and equality. It's a conversation about what's next and that's ultimately good -- America is one long conversation about what's next.

The dialogue has focused on race, and that matters immensely. But power and privilege -- the heart of both the Chappaquiddick saga and Floyd's death -- go beyond race as well.

Privilege is being able to get away with what most people can't. Power enables it when people are too invested or intimidated to push back.

And, too often, we enable government and the people within it -- from the local police all the way to the White House -- to hold onto too much of both. That's not a Republican or Democrat thing; it's a baked-in-the-cake thing when we ask government to do so much.

George Floyd's lifeless body and Ted Kennedy skating for his actions are exactly what power and privilege look like, and part of what we should be talking about rolling back.