Op-Ed: Who Will Carry The Torch Now?


Carrying the torch

Who will carry the torch now?

“Let the word go forth – from this time and place – that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.”

Here at the Kennedy for President website, probably the second most frequently-asked-question we get (click here if you want to know the first) is: “why do you guys do this? What motivates you to keep the dream of putting another Kennedy in the White House going? Why RFK Jr.?”

I can’t answer for the rest of our volunteer staff, our other guest bloggers or commentators, but when folks pose that question to me, I always try to explain it as a fire in the belly. But what do I mean by that?

My Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms says that “if you have fire in your belly, you are ready to fight with energy and determination for what you believe is right.”

Yeah, I’d say that pretty well sums it up.

Bobby Kennedy Jr. as our future president is something I’m willing to fight for with energy and determination because I believe he will do what is right for the American People. I believe he would represent our interests like no other president since his Uncle John F. Kennedy. I believe the world needs him now. It’s not about “restoring Camelot” or any such silliness as that. It’s not about the past. It’s all about the future.


But reconciling this inspiring fantasy of America’s potential future with the hard reality of the country’s present condition and the presidential candidates who all propose to fix this mess — is another matter entirely.

I see what we could be, what we want to be, and more importantly, what we should be. I see what we as a nation can achieve with the proper leadership.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. shares that same vision of America’s future. One of my favorite quotes he often peppers his speeches with is the masthead (and motto) for this blog: “The present shouts. The future whispers…our job is to amplify the voice of the future.”

That’s what we here at the Kennedy for President website are doing. We think Kennedy is the voice of the future, and we aim to amplify that voice so that more and more people around this troubled world can hear it. Once they have, we hope they will lend us their voices, too.

Okay, that’s the optimistic version. But the real truth is, it’s not easy holding a vision in your mind of something good, a future you dearly want, when it feels like so many forces oppose the kind of progress you want to ultimately achieve.

So you slog on anyway and do the best you can, but as any soldier on the battlefront will tell you, we all have moments of doubt. We have to stop and ask ourselves sometimes: why fight? why bother when the bad guys nearly always win?  With so much apathy in this country, is it even possible to make somebody else care about much of anything other than who won the latest round of American Idol?


Y’know, everytime I feel like giving up the fight, just throwing in the towel (which happens more often than I’d like to admit), the words of Jack Kennedy echo in my consciousness over and over again like an uplifting, if somewhat annoying, broken record. It’s that immortal Inaugural address again — talking to me — saying:

“Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”

And I remember why I’m here. Why I get up and do this everyday when I could be out romping in the park or playing in the sunshine. God knows there are far more pleasant pursuits in life than spending several hours a day behind a computer, blogging your fingers to the bone.

Above my computer hangs a sign with only two words:


Those words changed my life and a lot of others, too. Those words “ask not…” continue to guide and inspire my life today, and those words implore me – you – all of us – to do our part.

We must save this country. We owe it to Jack Kennedy, to Bobby, to Dr. King, Malcolm X, and to each and every soldier who laid down his or her life in battle. We owe it to the founders of our Republic. We owe it to history. We owe our children and our children’s children a better world. We owe it to our parents and grandparents so that they can be proud of us. But above all, we owe the eternal quest for truth and justice to God in hope that he will forgive us our sins and once again Bless America.

If it is indeed true that “the Lord helps those who help themselves,” we’ve got a lot of work to do before we are truly worthy.

So “ask not…” –there’s no need to ask, really. We know what needs to be done. We know what we can do for our country, what we must do. There’s no question anymore. Now it’s just full speed ahead.


Kennedy family at JFK\

Kennedy family members gather to honor their fallen at Arlington National Cemetery. Caroline Kennedy, RFK’s widow Ethel, Senator Edward Kennedy, his wife Vicki, and younger generations of Kennedys all carry white roses. 


The recent collapse and subsequent brain cancer diagnosis of Senator Ted Kennedy underscores “the fierce urgency of now,” to borrow a phrase from another great `60s leader, MLK. It serves to remind us all that his generation won’t be with us forever.

The last surviving Knights of the Camelot Round Table are growing old and departing one by one…and a sense of our own responsibility grows with each passing year. Now the torch has been passed – and it’s up to us, the new generation to carry on the work they started. We cannot let these people down. They’re like our spiritual parents – or grandparents – and we owe them our very best efforts.

Already, the media, politicos and pundits are speculating on who will emerge as the next patriarch; the next leader of the Kennedy family; of the Democratic Senate; of the Democratic party’s liberal wing someday. Who will take Ted Kennedy’s place, everyone wonders?

While no one is counting Senator Kennedy out anytime soon (we predict he’ll be back on the Senate floor in three weeks or less!), it is wise to face the fact that an era is closing. It’s the sort of thing you just know – you feel it in your bones. And hopefully, you also feel a deep, driving need to step forward, to become part of the new generation of leaders who will one day supplant those who came before us in this struggle.

Many in my generation (born in the post-Camelot years) will stand here now and proudly name Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as the man we want to represent and lead us in that future. We want to put him in the White House as our generation’s president in 2012. Some are already suggesting him as a Vice President to President Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, or even Jesse Ventura (so sayeth the man himself!) in 2008.

We know that Kennedy’s time is now, we believe he’s ready to lead. He’s got his eye on a public office in New York State – perhaps U.S. Senator or Governor, both excellent possibilities. Some say his name should be suggested as a vice presidential nominee at the party convention this year (as Jack Kennedy did in `56), just to increase his visibility and viability, while putting him in perfect alignment for a run four years from now.

When – and if – RFK Jr. runs for President of the United States, we know he can win on his own merits. How he chooses to get there is up to him.

Of course, we really wish he were running in 2008, but 2012 will be here before you know it. So we’ve decided to leave the Draft Kennedy petition active for four more years…or eight more years…or however long it takes. We will continue to collect signatures and organize an army ready for deployment on the campaign trail when summoned by their future Commander-in-Chief.

We hold on to that collective vision of a better future for America, one with Bobby at the wheel. We’re keeping the engine warm – this bus is revved up and ready to roll anytime he is.

Some people see things as they are and ask, “why”? We dream of things that are yet to be and ask, “why not?”

The Eternal Flame, JFK gravesite, Arlington

(An Eternal Flame burns forever atop the grave of President Kennedy, Arlington National Cemetery.)

“The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe—the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution.

Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

This much we pledge—and more.”

– President John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address. January 20, 1961.



Copyright RFKin2008.com.



Filed under election 2008, global warming, impeach Bush, JFK, John F. Kennedy, politics, president kennedy, RFK, RFK Jr., robert f. kennedy, robert kennedy jr., the kennedys, Uncategorized

11 responses to “Op-Ed: Who Will Carry The Torch Now?

  1. Pingback: Politics in America

  2. Allison

    I really wish Bobby would run, too, but it doesn’t look like it this time around. Maybe if Hillary Clinton decides to retire from public life, that NY Senate seat will open up and Bobby can get his political career going and work his way to the top. I would love a Gore/Kennedy ticket myself.

    Too bad you couldn’t get Bobby to blog here about his thoughts on running for public office, including the presidency. I’d like to hear an in depth response from the man himself.

  3. Thanks for your story:)

  4. Jack Mosel

    It’s time to call the page “The draft Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. for President of the World” page!

    I don’t think about why I come here, I just do. Blogging in the evirons of the website that actually holds a candle for something… anything kennedy, that supports tireless efforts from RFK, Sen. Ted, Caroline and posthumously, in the name and best intersets of the spirit of JFK, RFK and MLK. This is the place that feels right and gives me literary license to rail at the criminals who are evil (in carnate) who seek the wholesale destruction of the United States of America and are actually the TERRORISTS and TRAITORS that our founding fathers told us were going to be arriving in their/our future.

    In the name of The Kennedy’s and in Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, as well as our founding Fathers and in the name of Constitutional justice, I blog here. Even If it’s just three of us who talk amongst ourselves. Others from well read blogs check out our thoughts and sometimes take quotes from our converstions and pass it on to their blogs. If no one said anything, then nothing would be said or worse… What would be said, would be more horse shit from the Traitors and Terrorists who reside in the Republican Party and have their way with us on their FOX news and their propagandist mainstream media…

    I believe that 9/11/2001 was an inside job. I believe that we are under attack from enemies from within. I believe that we are now an openly FASCIST country and yes, actually in a dictatorship and I’d be willing to go toe to toe with anyone on this (Civilly)…

    My outrage and the very fire in my belly is that the proof of this is easily seen… not from the abundant evidence but from the very lack thereof, the very lack of any investigation and the instant outrage that is targetted to anyone who asks questions is immediately attacked, fired, arrested, tazed, denied access, accounts on you tube cutoff, flamed unmercifully in blogs, and generally be made to feel like if you question these criminal fascists about 9/11/2001 you are the terrorist.

    I come here to have my feelings vented,vetted and validated under the spectre of the loving memory and spirit of these men who were REAL PATRIOTS and paid the greatest price undeniably at the hands of what seems to be the same crowd that is “AT IT AGAIN” only this time, it’s worse.

    We need to roll for real and at least I can say that I did my part to ward off the kooliad’s effects and to call for the arrest and investigation to these TRAITOROUS HIGH CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS, FASCIST DICTATORSHIP OVERTHROW OF THE U.S.A!

  5. chrisy58

    Great piece.

    Both of the quotes used are quotes that I have always held dear in my heart too. I think that is why I keep on fighting. I keep on looking at things as they could be, should be and I try to think of ways we can bring them into reality.

    I also can relate to the part of sometimes thinking what is the use? I might as well give up and not try anymore? But those thoughts only flash in and out of my mind, because I can’t give up. I have to keep trying. I tell myself I don’t have a weak bone in my body and I must continue to fight to overcome the struggles.

    When I look around America today in 2008 I want to weep because I think of the world that we will be passing on to the next generation and what the world will be like that they pass on to their children. My nephew is graduating from Law School this week and someday he will get married and have children and what will the world be like for them?

    I look around and see how divided this country is. Where is the mindset of every American working together for the common good of the country to find solutions to the problems we are facing. We should be one country united, but instead we have different groups of Americans who want to stay with their own little group and want to seperate this country. They have what I call the us vs them mindset. That was one fight that Lincoln had to fight in keeping this country together as one country.

    The reason that I would like to RFK jr in the White House is because I think he is one man in my generation that really gets it. He understands what is going on and I believe would come up with solututions. I think he could make a difference and he might just be the one to get things done. I see him as a man of vision, intelligence, and an honorable man.

    When I see how this country has become under the rule of the right wing I get angry. They blame the Liberal Democrats for all the problems in the last 40 years and have such hate in their hearts. I pointed out that in the last 40 years there have been more Republican Presidents than Democrat. The Republicans had the Congress for many years until 2006 when the Democrats regained control. If I count up the numbers I see more years of the Right Wing in control.

    We are at a crossroads and I for one think the RFK jr is the best qualified to be at the helm. Like you it has nothing to do with the past or wanting to recapture Camelot, but it has to do with the future and who I think has the best understanding of the problems this country is facing and who I believe doesn’t have a weak bone in his body either. lol.

    I for one am glad this site is here. You have very interesting articles and I am enjoying reading the comments as well. They make me think and that is a good thing.

  6. Jack Mosel

    Get past these indictments GOP and I’ll be willing to talk about LIBERAL tax and spending… Welfare Moms or anything else you might think holds water beyond your trash…


  7. Jack Mosel

    oh yeah… GOD BLESS KEITH OLBERMAN too!

  8. Thanks for the kind words of support. It’s fascinating to read the reasons why we all come here and write until our fingers hurt!

    We’re all here for the same ultimate reason, really: because we love our country and hate to see what’s happening to it. We all see a man who has the vision, integrity and courage to bring the kind of leadership this world needs to the table. We want to show him our support.

    In the letters I’ve exchanged with Mr. Kennedy, as well as in all of our in-person meetings, he always makes a point to express his deep gratitude to the people who are encouraging him to run. I think he feels truly humbled that so many people – not just Americans – would ask him to run for this nation’s highest office.

    Obviously, he has made the decision that 2008 is not the time. There are likely many reasons – his friendship with and support of Hillary Clinton, family commitments, his work commitments at Pace Law, Air America, his breakneck travel and speaking schedule, just to name a few – but that’s not to say he isn’t aware of his country’s call. He is.

    Bobby already gives so much, and works so hard for his country. He has to pick his battles, because there are only so many hours in a day and so many years in a lifetime. There’s only so much that one can give.

    Kennedy’s challenge now – and I think he knows it – is to decide what kind of future he wants, and then plan for it. If he feels he should run for elected office, it will require a huge lifestyle/career change; he has to consider how that will affect his family. And which office could he really accomplish something in? Senator? NY Governor? President?

    This is pure speculation on my part, based on what I know of him and the conversations we’ve had recently. I can’t answer for him, nor should I even try — but I think any of our readers would likely come to the same conclusions based on his own published remarks over the past year or so. He’s already said the same thing on many occasions: this is the battle he is fighting with himself right now.

    Allison, you asked if Mr. Kennedy could be pursuaded to blog a reply on the question of running for office. That’s a great idea, and I will definitely ask him if he’s interested. He’s certainly welcome to guest blog here any time, and I’d issue a login to him so he can do so whenever it fits his hectic schedule.

    That’s probably what I enjoy most about editing this website – getting your feedback and ideas. You guys and gals are what makes it all worth the time and effort.:)

  9. Fred

    Reading this piece really hit me where I live today. After hearing the news of ted Kennedy’s brain tumor, I’m pretty devastated and i worry about the future.

    not just the future of this political campaign – Obama or clinton – none of that really matters to me much today, i’m just too sad to pay much attention to the presidential race right now.

    it seems obvious that someone will have to step forward now and lead the Democratic party, the Democratic Senate, and the kennedy family as the sort of elder Statesman Teddy has always been. i don’t know who that’s ultimately going to be, but Bobby is the man to do it, if he is ready.

    The news today was a wake up call to everyone that we can’t take for granted that Teddy’s always going to be around to lead us. It stresses a need for us to find new leaders, younger leaders…it is time.

    God bless Teddy kennedy – we are all praying for him!

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