Frthom's Blog

Robert F. Kennedy-What Might Have Been

Posted in Politics by frthom on June 5, 2016

Back in June of 1968, in a small New York Avenue storefront close to the “Soundtracks” music store, was the Huntington, Long Island headquarters for Robert Kennedy’s presidential campaign. There was a collective surge of excitement among the campaign volunteers on the night of June 5th. Their candidate was going to win another primary, this one in California and, even better, the volunteers were scheduled to meet Kennedy and his wife Ethel during a fund-raising appearance at a home in Lloyd Harbor the following week-end.

That night, as he was taking his leave from the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after his victory speech, Robert Kennedy was wounded by an assassin, and hours later on June 6th died of his wounds, in the eyes of some, the victim of a terrorist attack.

There were many sides to Robert Kennedy. He may be remembered as a young attorney in the 1950’s supporting a delusional Senator Joseph McCarthy. He may be remembered as a self-righteous attorney general who hounded organized crime despite or because of his father’s underworld roots. He may also be remembered as the ruthless alter-ego, the political pit bull for his brother John.

But Robert Kennedy should primarily be remembered for having gone through a pronounced political–perhaps spiritual–metamorphosis during his later years as the U.S. Senator from New York. He had been humbled by his brother’s death as he spoke out passionately and convincingly during his aborted presidential campaign in support of the impoverished, the disenfranchised, the oppressed.

Robert Kennedy often quoted the Greek tragedian Aeschylus, who said that politics was a “noble” profession. During the nearly fifty years since Robert Kennedy’s death and his short-circuited attempts to transform the American conscience, there have been few signs of anything “noble” at any level in American politics.

Since June 1968, there have been occasional flashes of Kennedy’s political vision, but moreover there has been a pervading culture of death and cynicism since an assassin’s bullet took away a leader who seemed truly capable of the fulfilling the words, “…I dream things that never were and ask why not?”