I have one enduring political hero. Had he lived and become President, I believe that none of the national nightmare we see unfolding right now would be happening.
Watergate would not have happened because there would have been no Nixon Presidency.
Ronald Reagan would not have happened because there would not have been a fracture in government that pitted the rich against the poor, the powerful against the powerless.
We would be a nation in celebration today instead of one in crisis.
There would be no Donald Trump presidency, no Mitch McConnell where he is, no Jeff Sessions, no Mike Pence, no Paul Ryan, no Ted Cruz doing their level best to tear the safety net out from under the people who can least afford to be without it.
No one would be trying to eliminate Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or trying to put health care out of reach for those with preexisting conditions.
His nickname was Bobby. He hated it. I can’t help using it, though. It’s as comforting a name to me as Daddy.
My heart aches for all the “could have beens” that never were had RFK won the Presidency–or even just been here to weigh in on what has happened since.
But I have to be grateful that he isn’t here to see what his nation has become. It’s like we’re back in the 1950’s, or even the 1850’s–racist, sexist, misogynistic, hedonistic, bestial. (But actual beasts can be forgiven; they have no moral sense and non-human predators have to kill to survive; we humans know better and can do better!).
I wrote about Bobby a few months ago to commemorate the fiftieth year of his passing here and posted links to various speeches he gave. I encourage you to read that and watch those if you haven’t already.
But I think his brother, Edward, said it best at his memorial service. (Take a listen…or read the transcript here before you continue, please!)
Robert F. Kennedy was that rare statesman whose heart was always bigger than his lust for power. While he wielded it as Attorney General, he went after those who prey on others, including some of the same power-wielders who helped elect his brother John President.
He couldn’t visit an Indian reservation or the hovels in Appalachia or Hell’s Kitchen or a ghetto without running his hands through youngsters’ heads of hair and thinking of them as his own.
No one in history of his caliber should have died before he had a chance to make things a whole lot better for the dispossessed and the marginalized–and for the rest of us as well–because as long as other human being are suffering unnecessarily in this country and around the world, we are all at greater risk of falling victim to the same callous disregard; all we need to experience it is a hostile regime willing to enforce the mistaken notion of “us against them,” “survival of the fittest,” and “limited resources (ahem–zero desire to help!)”.
Had he lived, the chasm that yawns between where we are right now and where we should be would be small enough to step across.
Instead, there’s a Grand Canyon yawning before us.
That is the tragedy of the United States of America today.
Perhaps Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Joe Kennedy III (RFK’s grandson), Ben Jealous, Kamala Harris, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a cadre of their types, working together, can turn the tide and restore the vision that RFK so clearly saw as an achievable future for the United States.
I hope so!