Ann and I watched a documentary on Robert Kennedy the other night on YouTube (link). It was first presented on the American Experience series on PBS and it was, in view of the fact that the 2016 Presidential campaign has now officially started, worth watching.
Some of the points expressed in this documentary are worth noting. First, it showed Robert Kennedy growing as a politician and moving from the hard and fixed views of the 1950s to a more nuanced understanding of the problems of the 60s. And yet, he never lost his moral compass; in fact, it was that compass that drove him to understand the needs of the poor, the disenfranchised, and the forgotten people of this country and the world. It was that moral compass that lead him to question our policies in Viet Nam, knowing full well that there were going to be those who would point out he was one of the architects of that very policy. But, in the end, he could justify the morality of war.
It was noted that he didn’t really like the welfare system in place at that time but it was also noted he worked to get companies involved creating jobs and investing in the people who needed the jobs the most.
He challenged the privileged classes of this country to literally get out of their country club environments and move to where the people were (look up the speech he gave to medical students Ball State University the morning Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated; see “To Build a New Community” for a link to references of that speech). He challenged governments to change their policies of oppression (his trip to South Africa when apartheid still ruled – “Suppose God Is Black”).
On the night when Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated, the Indianapolis police didn’t want him to go to a scheduled rally in one of the black sections of town. The police felt that they could not protect him but he went anyway. And it was Robert Kennedy who told the people assembled there that Dr. King had been murdered. The people gathered left in peace and returned home. And because of what he said that night, a night when violence erupted in over 100 cities across this country, there was peace in Indianapolis.
Being President is more than responding the demands of a select few; it is responding to the needs of all the people of this country. Please consider what Robert Kennedy did and tried to do in 1968 to bring this country, divided by economy, war, and race together, and do the same.