THE FLAME REALLY IS ETERNAL
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.
THE FUTURE WHISPERS
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?
THE PAST BECKONS
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 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 PRESENT SHOUTS
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?”
(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.