Although Kennedy was "only" a senator and had his own flaws, he embodied the liberal ideals and sense of public service. He showed that you do not have to be President of the United States to make a tremendous impact in national policy. As one of the fiercest advocates for civil rights, immigration reform, healthcare, and so many other issues, he showed that even the most privileged individuals have an obligation to be a voice for the people who did not have one.
He was what every young idealistic college democrat wanted to be. College republicans had Reagan, but the Kennedys were ours. While JFK and Bobby were symbols of progressivism, Teddy had the burden to carry their torch. He actually made it happen.
I looked back on my blog from college and saw the many ways he influenced my own "political developement." I remember watching him speak at the 2004 DNC Convention, meeting him at a fundraiser I helped organize for him in Beverly Hills, and even applying to be one of his Senate interns. I remember quoting him in 2005, after a personally stressful political day: "The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dreams shall never die."
Thanks for everything Teddy.