I was just lamenting to my friend Pete yesterday that we didn’t have any leaders today like Robert Kennedy. Apparently others are thinking along the same lines. The following clip comes from an opinion piece by former Senate staffer Brent Budowsky:
…I believe there is now an economically unpatriotic wing of the GOP. They express partisan joy with every new job loss. They oppose new jobs programs with an obstructionism reminiscent of segregationist senators during the dark days of the antebellum South. Their politics is a cult of unpatriotism in which some Americans die for their country while the wealthiest Americans are not asked to pay taxes equal to those of their receptionist, and the wealthiest companies are not asked to pay any taxes at all.
We miss one of the most revered presidents in American history, who lifted our sights and our standards: John F. Kennedy. We miss that passionate protagonist who united the races behind shared economic interests: Robert Kennedy. We miss the Lion of the Senate who would be roaring today for more programs to create jobs, as he roared in 2008 to elect President Obama: Edward Kennedy.
If God would grant me one political wish, it would be that Barack Obama would fully understand the greatness of Robert Kennedy.
RFK did not criticize the base of the great political party he wanted to lead the nation. RFK did not believe in the false notion that the way to appeal to political independents is to demean, distance himself or triangulate against the heart and soul of this party. This is an insult to the Democratic heritage, an insult to political independents, and the way to lose elections as Democrats lost in 2010.
JFK fought for a rising tide that would lift all boats. RFK carried that torch with honor. He spoke passionately for the poor and profoundly about the dignity of work. The result (are you listening, Mr. President?) is that many white working-class voters who ultimately voted for the racist George Wallace in 1968 stood with RFK as their first choice because they knew he was fighting for them.
What voters want today (are you listening, Mr. President?) are leaders who fight for them as Robert Kennedy fought for them against greedy powers that cheat them, and impersonal forces that crush them, and depress them, and keep them down, and tell them they must quietly acquiesce to their fate of long-term suffering and pain…
My discussion with Pete, if you didn’t catch it in Saturday’s Shadow Art Fair post, can be seen here.
And, for those who are interested, I’ve added the book The Last Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days That Inspired America to the MM.com Amazon store.
As for the ghost of RFK, I’m hoping that he comes soon, before Obama gives everything away to the monied elite in our country. As much as I dislike the thought that Obama may slash the Head Start budget, maybe it would be a good thing, if it brought back an angry RFK. (Kennedy started Head Start as Attorney General.)
update: Today I learned that, the day after I was born in Lexington, Kentucky, Robert Kennedy arrived there, to begin his poverty tour of Appalachia.