WHO IS MISSING FROM THIS PICTURE?
RFK Jr. supporters who follow this blog surely feel my anguish when I say that last night’s CNN/YouTube Democratic debate was at times painful to watch.
Although many of the homemade videos submitted through YouTube were just plain silly, some of the evening’s most important questions – the Iraq war, global climate change, election integrity, healthcare, the current culture of corruption in Washington – were left for the most part sufficiently unanswered by the mainstream Democratic candidates.
These just happen to be the issues that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is most passionate about. He could speak honestly and specifically to the issues and propose real solutions, as he often does in his magazine articles, editorials, interviews, and speeches. And it’s a damn shame he wasn’t up there on that podium last night, because he most likely would have stolen the show.
As reflected in the candidate’s placement onstage (and in the above photo), CNN’s coverage predictably gave the most airtime to the frontrunners, effectively squelching dissenting voices like Dennis Kucinich and former Alaska senator Mike Gravel. These two maverick crusaders were relegated to the outside edges of the stage, seemingly by design, to make them appear as “fringe” candidates, tinfoil hats barely worth listening to.
And yet, Kucinich and Gravel were about the only two candidates who gave us the straight talk we crave in last night’s debate. The sad news for their supporters is that they don’t seem to stand a chance of winning the party’s nomination. Or so the number-crunchers keep telling us.
If the convention were tomorrow, Democrats would likely choose Hillary Clinton as their nominee. Maybe a Hillary/Edwards ticket. Or a Hillary/Obama ticket, as many pundits now predict.
(Yawns)…But a lot of us just aren’t feeling that excitement for the old tried-and-true ticket this time around. Another Clinton (or Clinton/Gore?) administration after 8 years of King George II’s reign feels like going backwards. We’re not ready for a 90s nostalgia craze just yet, at least not when it comes to our politics.
Surveying the rest of the candidates upon that stage last night, we saw two former senators, four current senators, one governor, and one congressman. Each a representative of this country’s power structure. These are the people who run our government, supposedly the best and the brightest we have to offer. If that’s so, why are the American people so dissatisfied with them?
And why should we vote for them again when it is clear that most of them aren’t currently doing the job we elected them to do in the first place? Why should we be asked to believe that old dogs can learn new tricks, leopards can change their spots, and pigs can fly? When will we demand better choices and expect more from our presidential candidates?
THE *SECOND* SENATOR KENNEDY OF NEW YORK?
There are many who say that maybe RFK Jr. should run for the Senate seat in New York when/if Hillary vacates it, that he should have a few years of Congressional experience under his belt before running for President.
This has long been the conventional wisdom for aspiring candidates, but I think the times we live in require us to think outside the box. Voters want to see some honesty back in the oval office — and the *last* place we look for honesty these days is Capitol Hill. We tend to distrust Washington insiders, and often for good reason. They haven’t done much to inspire our confidence.
Recent approval ratings for Congress are lower than they have ever been in our nation’s history. I’m not so certain that being a member of Congress is such a big plus in the eyes of voters anymore. The fact that RFK Jr. is not a professional politician may actually turn out to be his greatest selling point to so many voters who are at wits end with business as usual.
Not that he wouldn’t make a great Senator from New York (guess his supporters would all just have to move to NY!), but in that case, only one state of the union gets to benefit from his leadership. The whole country needs a man like him now.
2012 or 2016 may be too late. America is on such a perilous course. There is no time to waste, our country’s future is too important. The old approaches, names and familiar faces just aren’t serving us well anymore. After sitting through the entire excruciating CNN/YouTube debate last night, it was more clear to me than ever that Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s time is now.
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