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Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Takes on Democracy

by Pamela Leavey

I have long been an admirer of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. While many in the blogosphere, left and right, are discussing the validity of his recent Rolling Stone article, I simply applaud his willingness to take on an issue that many prefer not to discuss. It’s not about changing the results of an election long past, it’s about fighting for the rights and liberties that everyone in this country should hold dear, no matter what side of the aisle your politics lean.

Ron posted a quick note about the article in today’s NY Times about Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., “Another Kennedy Living Dangerously,” earlier today. Upon reading it myself, I once again affirm why I admire Kennedy so much. In my opinion, Bobby Jr. has always been a man not afraid to step out on a limb, like his father before him, Bobby Jr. believes passionately in making a difference in the world. I am reminded in reading the NY Times piece today of my favorite quote from his father, which epitomizes the legacy Bobby Jr. carries on in his father’s name:

Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. – Robert F. Kennedy



The NY Times piece notes some responses from Senator Edward M. Kennedy in a phone interview for the article by Times writer, Mark Leibovich.

Senator Kennedy, who like his nephew lost brothers well before their time, said, “I think he feels he has to live for a lot of people who’ve been lost.”

The senator made these remarks in the context of his nephew’s lifestyle and political work. Friends say Mr. Kennedy has undergone a gradual adjustment to his priorities through the Bush years. He has broadened his notion of “what you’re supposed to do.” He has, through his professional life, been identified with the environmental movement.

“Now it’s much more fundamental than protecting the environment for Bobby,” said his friend Laurie David, the liberal advocate and producer of “An Inconvenient Truth,” the Al Gore movie. “He fears that the country is being lost, that democracy is at stake.”

So, do I. The assault on our democracy at the hands of the Bush administration has been one continual progression of tearing down our civil rights and liberties. In his fight to protect the environment and the rights of those harmed by the Bush administration’s assault on the environment, Kennedy has fought to protect the rights of every person in this country in harm’s way of Bush’s destructive environmental policies.

This natural progression of Kennedy from a lawyer who defends our most precious resource — the earth, to a lawyer who will fight for preserving democracy through voter’s rights, is just another step in the legacy of a man unafraid of striking out “against injustice,” sending “forth a tiny ripple of hope,” and daring to “sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

We live in a perilous time where so many are still afraid to stand and dissent against this administration that has damaged our country in so many ways it’s hard to keep track. Our democracy needs a champion on so many levels and it’s high time someone dared to step up to the plate and take on this issue.

If you’re looking for proof and certitude [election’04], you’re not going to find it,” he said. Either way, Mr. Kennedy said he is committed to stoking the outrage of 2004, wherever it leads. “This is going to remain one of my central concerns for a while,” he said, adding, “America should be indignant.”

America should be indignant, in my opinion. Where are our leaders speaking out on protecting voter’s rights? We’re fighting so many battles right now, against the Bush administration; the willingness of Kennedy to take up this cause is indeed, welcomed by many. Question his tactics if you must — but do not question the motives of a man who has championed the rights of so many for so long, when it comes to the environment. We all transcend through natural progressions in our lives. Those of us who take on causes and issues, often move effortlessly from one to another.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is taking a leap of faith — faith that our Democracy can be restored. Taking up this battle, this experience taking on Democracy, “has left him more likely to run for office than before, ” Kennedy said. Run, Bobby, run, I say.

It’s all in God’s hands“… “I can only control my own conduct,” Mr. Kennedy said, shrugging. “And I plan to go down fighting.”

*Boston Globe Photo – 2005

7 Responses to “Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Takes on Democracy”

  1. Womderful portrait, Pamela. He is as sincere, as he is effective. Admirable.

    When I met a friend of JK’s a few weeks ago, who said he would have been a great president, also unusual in that he doesn’t lie. I see the same unwavering sense of his own truth and mission for service in RFK, Jr.

  2. Marjorie

    I see the Kennedy trait in JK, always have – and vice versa.

    Bobby Jr is a true champion in my book – in every sense of the word. I remembered I had that great photo I had saved from last year, too – it blended well with the quote from his father.

    I’m glad you enjoyed this. I thought the NY Times article was a great piece about a man who is transcending naturally into a new cause.

  3. Very good photo. I think the message is one many voters need to hear. Whether you are angry and want to fight or discouraged and feel apathetic, having someone who is willing to lead the fight makes a difference to both.

    There is a lot to do, and most don’t even have a clue other than there’s a lot of power and corruption. Reading the floor speech of the senator who had tried to put an amendment in to the military appropriations bill to control fraud by work outsourced, it was another surreal moment I am becoming all too familiar with. The list of abuses went on and on. The counter measures were simple and appropriate. The GOP tabled the amendment, consider it dead.

    When, where do they stop? I have to hope they will be voted out of office and we will retake at least one of the chambers. But there is that nagging fear that …
    it will happen all over again.

    2 more years is not an option I want to live through.

  4. Kennedy is a true American patriot. He is a man I would vote for President. I’ve not seen any others except perhaps, Feingold.

  5. Pamela,

    Thanks for the inspirational words and photo. Yes, RFK, Jr. is a relentless champion for causes he believes in. I was so pleased when he became a Kerry endorser back in the 2004 campaign. He saw the same things in Kerry that he also was working for, a quality of fairness in how we treat others and how we treat our environment. Honesty and fairness — what politics or any worthwhile endeavor should be about.

  6. Connie

    We need more RFK, Jr’s in this world, it would be a far better place with more people willing to champion the little people.

  7. Please tell me that Robert is planning to run in the 2008 election. I’ve admired his courageous words and deeds over the years.
    This country..and this world lost 3 bright and beautiful souls when John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were so violently taken from us.

    The torch has been passed to RFK Jr…we need him to run with it now!

    Love, Wyzowl x