Dr. King's death left a void in a nation desperately in need of his allegiance to nonviolence and his belief in the promise of America, and now in danger of losing both. Congress responded by passing President Johnson's bill to ban racial discrimination in the sale or rental of housing. Robert Kennedy tried to fill the void, too. He won the Indiana primary on May 7, preaching racial reconciliation while appealing to more conservative voters by talking tough on crime and the need to move people from welfare to work. Some liberals attacked his "law and order" message, but it was politically necessary. And he believed in it, just as he believed in ending all draft deferments.I often wonder what would have been had the following people not been assassinated: President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Senator Robert Francis Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the great Beatle John Lennon. I would have voted for Sen. Kennedy but I'm only 20 so I was not alive then.
In Indiana, Bobby Kennedy became the first New Democrat, before Jimmy Carter, before the Democratic Leadership Council, which I helped start in 1985, and before my campaign in 1992. He believed in civil rights for all and special privileges fro none, in giving poor people a hand up rather than a handout: work was better than welfare. He understood in a visceral way that progressive politics requires the advocacy of both new policies and fundamental values, both far-reaching change and social stability. If he had become President, America's journey through the rest of the twentieth century would have been very different.
Thursday, December 16, 2004
More on Sen. Robert Kennedy
I'm at home now so I decided to pull out former President Clinton's monsterous autobiography, "My Life." It states on page 122 (paragraphs 2 & 3)