Budowsky: Kennedy carries the torch

Budowsky: Kennedy carries the torch
© The Hill photo illustration

Rep. Joe KennedyJoseph (Joe) Patrick KennedySenate Intel chief slams ex-CIA director for timing of claims about Trump-Russia ties Top Dem lawmaker pushing committee for closed-door debrief with Trump’s interpreter Dem rep knocks Trump’s credibility: ‘Would' versus 'wouldn't' is a ‘pretty big deal’ MORE III (D-Mass.), who carried the torch for an enlightened patriotism and the conscience of our country in the Democratic response to President TrumpDonald John TrumpBrennan fires new shot at Trump: ‘He’s drunk on power’ Trump aides discussed using security clearance revocations to distract from negative stories: report Trump tried to dissuade Melania from 'Be Best' anti-bullying campaign: report MORE’s State of the Union address, should join the list of potential Democratic nominees for vice president in 2020.

A new generation of dynamic young Democrats is rising across America as bold young leaders have risen to power in democratic nations including Canada and France. Americans yearn to reclaim a future that raises our sights, honors our values, restores our unity and lifts our spirits in ways not seen in the Oval Office since Jan. 20, 2017.

The Trump-Kennedy contrast tells a tale of two men, two parties and two visions of America that will define politics in 2018, 2020 and beyond. In Trump’s America, Hispanic immigrants are demonized by conflating them with vicious gang members.  In Kennedy’s America, the dream should flourish for all and leaders do not build walls, they tear them down.

ADVERTISEMENT
Kennedy represents something exciting and powerful that is happening across America in response to Trump. There is a surge of enthusiasm and excitement among young Americans who will inherit the future, blacks who know their votes matter, Hispanics who will not relent in their quest to make their dreams come true and women who are surging to the forefront of national leadership.

Voter turnout for Democrats is surging.

In his address to the nation, Kennedy gave voice to them all, and more.  Speaking eloquently and passionately in English and Spanish to an audience in Fall River, where the old and new economies meet in Massachusetts, Kennedy championed an America in which the rising tide lifts all boats, from the poorest of the poor in our cities to the workers in the blue-collar towns of our heartland.

Kennedy embodies a politics that is powerfully reminiscent of his grandfather Sen. Robert Kennedy (D-N.Y.), who won support from minority groups and white blue-collar workers by proposing that they share the same values, dreams and economic interests in this special place we call America, where prosperity should be shared by all and justice should flow like a mighty river in all directions.

Kennedy carries the torch for an enlightened patriotism and united America that Trump will never understand. Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSentencing reform deal heats up, pitting Trump against reliable allies Bernie Sanders socialism moves to Democratic mainstream Overnight Health Care: Arkansas Medicaid work rules could cost thousands coverage | Record number of overdose deaths in 2017 | Dems demand immediate reunification of separated children MORE (D-Calif.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSentencing reform deal heats up, pitting Trump against reliable allies Bernie Sanders socialism moves to Democratic mainstream Democrats embracing socialism is dangerous for America MORE (D-N.J.), Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharHillicon Valley: Trump escalates feud with intel critics | Tesla shares fall after troubling Musk interview | House panel considers subpoena for Twitter's Jack Dorsey | Why Turkish citizens are breaking their iPhones The Hill's Morning Report — GOP seeks to hold Trump’s gains in Midwest states Tina Smith defeats former Bush ethics lawyer in Minnesota Dem primary MORE (D-Minn.) and other rising Democratic stars carry that torch as well. So does Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), who could become the surprise superstar after the 2018 midterms if he succeeds in his campaign to unseat Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzBeto O’Rourke: Term limits can help keep politicians from turning into a--holes Election Countdown: GOP worries House majority endangered by top of ticket | Dems make history in Tuesday's primaries | Parties fight for Puerto Rican vote in Florida | GOP lawmakers plan 'Freedom Tour' Former spokeswoman defends Trump calling Omarosa ‘dog’: He’s called men dogs MORE (R-Texas), which is gaining steam.

While Kennedy told the nation that “we are all worthy, we are all equal and we all count,” the Women’s March seeks to change the course of history by registering 1 million new voters.  More than 30 young veterans are running for Congress as Democrats, including three courageous women who graduated from the Naval Academy, served with valor and were recently profiled in The New York Times. 

When I was a young man working for a brilliant senator named Birch Bayh (D-Ind.), my bosses would take me to the Mayflower hotel every Friday afternoon where Kenny O’Donnell, the great friend and confidant to John and Robert Kennedy, would hold court and tell us stories about the two great men.

I remember like it was yesterday when Kenny told us how he, Jack and Bobby would sometimes get to work early, be chatting in the Oval Office, and Jack would ask them:  “How are we going to change the world today?”

When Trump wakes up, we learn which Americans he will insult with tweets that morning.  When Joe Kennedy wakes up, he considers how he can make the world a better place that day.

Kennedy and others like him carry the torch for the enlightened patriotism and calls to action with a united purpose that truly make America great, and set the stage for Democrats to change the world again.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was chief deputy majority whip of the U.S. House of Representatives. He holds an LLM in international financial law from the London School of Economics.