by Brent Budowsky
Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.), who carried the torch for an enlightened patriotism and the conscience of our country in the Democratic response to President Trump’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.
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 Harris (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Amy Klobuchar (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 Cruz (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.