Public Programs

Getting to the Point: Progress in a Divided Government

A Discussion of Lion of the Senate by Nick Littlefield and David Nexon




Two top domestic policy advisors to Senator Edward Kennedy offer an insider’s view of several remarkable years when Kennedy fought to preserve the Democratic mission against  a Republican majority in both houses.

Lion of the Senate - When Ted Kennedy Rallied the Democrats in a GOP Congress

In November 1994 the election swept a new breed of Republicans into control of the United States Congress. Led by Speaker Newt Gingrich, the Republicans were determined to enact a conservative agenda that would reshape American government. Had it not been for Ted Kennedy, they would have succeeded.

In 1994, after defending his Senate seat against challenger Mitt Romney, Kennedy came back to Washington to find Democrats, including President Clinton, demoralized and leaning toward “compromises” that would adopt much of the Republican agenda. Undaunted, Kennedy pressed the agenda he would have championed had his party held power. He rallied the Democrats. He reached across the aisle to craft and pass key progressive legislation. And he stopped the Gingrich revolution in its tracks.

Nick Littlefield and David Nexon tell this story of a bare-knuckled and sometimes hilarious fight in the United States Senate. It is a political lesson for all time.

Video Resource


Additional Resources

  • Postponed: Getting to the Point on the 2020 Census

    In partnership with the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum as well as the Massachusetts Archives and Commonwealth Museum, the Institute will welcome state and local leaders for a conversation on the importance of the 2020 Census.

  • Smithsonian magazine Museum Day

    Museum Day is an annual celebration hosted by Smithsonian magazine. Participating museums and cultural institutions across the country provide free entry to anyone presenting a Museum Day ticket. The Museum Day ticket provides free admission for two people on April 4.

  • Postponed: First Saturday Drop-in Tours

    Join the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for Drop-In tours on the first Saturday of every month at 1 p.m. This discussion-based tour with a thematic focus offers deeper insights into the Institute’s exhibits and programs. Tours will lead into the Today’s Vote program where visitors can debate and vote on Senate legislation.