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Budowsky: As midterms approach, JFK’s legacy lives with Democrats 

The party of Abe Lincoln is now the party of Herschel Walker. The party of Ronald Reagan is now the party dominated by a defeated former president who says the Senate Republican leader has a “death wish” while insulting his wife. Meanwhile, the party of John Kennedy keeps his legacy shining in the White House, Congress and states across America. 

President Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, working together and with NATO, have been playing a strong hand against a desperate Russian dictator who is the gold standard of illegal invasions and massive criminal bombing of civilians. 

Historians will someday write that the Biden-Zelensky combination learned and applied many of the lessons of JFK’s brilliant stewardship of the Cuban missile crisis. Strength, courage, resolve, calmness under pressure and unyielding determination to achieve the critical goals were the hallmark then, and now. 

NATO today will be praised as learning and applying the lessons that JFK and the NATO alliance applied then and their successors apply today. The Russian dictator, who seeks to promote war in Europe while he commits crimes against Ukraine, underestimated Biden, Zelensky, NATO and the people of Ukraine who are a shining light in the history of freedom. 

If JFK were here, I believe he would be cheering them on in the same way. And for similar reasons, he would be cheering on Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) for the courage she was honored for by the great institution that bears his name. 

On domestic issues, the JFK legacy lives large with Democrats at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. In the first two years of the Biden presidency, they enacted a long list of legislative achievements on health care, climate change, veterans’ health, job creation, rebuilding America and protecting Americans from COVID-19 and gun violence. 

Biden and House and Senate Democrats, with occasional help from Republicans who are not prisoners of Donald Trump, achieved things reminiscent of JFK and other great Democratic presidents and Congresses throughout history. Republicans can try to deny this. But they cannot deny the facts of what was achieved. 

The JFK legacy lives large in states across America. 

In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) keeps the legacy alive with transcendent legislative achievements, including dramatic action to combat climate change and powerful action to make California a model and refuge for women demanding the right to abortion. 

Newsom, widely known to be a devoted practitioner of the politics and vision of the Kennedy years, recently told E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post about his “proudest moment” — creating the College Corps, which pays low-income students $10,000 to undertake community service, which is reminiscent of Sargent Shriver, another of his heroes, who was JFK’s first Peace Corps director. 

In the Dionne interview, Newsom offered President Biden one of the best compliments, saying Biden offers “a master class of substance,” a statement that doesn’t apply to Biden’s predecessor. 

Regarding Republicans, to paraphrase former White House counsel John Dean about another Republican president, there is a cancer in the Republican Party today. It is a party defined by too much hatred; too much division; an unhealthy degree of racism; an abnormal amount of deceit and hypocrisy from those who support many GOP Senate and House candidates who many have private contempt for. 

These Republicans would support anyone, no matter how bad and vile they know they are, to seek power, and purge other Republicans, no matter how good and able they know they are, from the party. 

I am proud of the quality of candidates Democrats have nominated. To save the Republican Party, moderate Republicans and principled conservatives should vote for Democrats, who keep alive the legacy of JFK. 

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 House of Representatives.  

Tags Gavin Newsom Herschel Walker JFK Joe Biden John Dean Liz Cheney Lloyd Bentsen Ronald Reagan Volodymyr Zelensky

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