Amidst the anguish of having to choose between two seventy year old presidential candidates neither of whom is attractive to many voters, the publication of a new biography of Bobby Kennedy by Larry Tye recalls a time when hope was embodied in young political figures who were role models of service, bigger than life and whose lives were taken because of their championing for the poor and marginalized.
Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon traces the dramatic story of the life of the youngest Kennedy brother from his days as council to the infamous McCarthy committee though his New York senate campaign to his shocking assassination during the 1968 presidential campaign. To say that he was a person who was driven is no exaggeration. He did it all: military service, council to congress, Attorney General, US Senator, international figure, champion of civil rights and farm workers, presidential candidate and father of a very large family. One wonders what kind of president he would have been and how would the country have changed under his leadership?
Readers and especially anyone who lived during Kennedy’s time will appreciate the extensive research used by the author to tell the story of Bobby’s life and all of the characters of that time in a new way: Joseph McCarthy, Jimmy Hoffa, Martin Luther King, Ted Kennedy, Roy Cohn, Linden Johnson, J Edgar Hoover, Jack Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey, Ramsey Clark and Richard Nixon.
What is there about the present time in our history when we have a dearth of young and attractive public servants and have to choose between a paranoid narcissist and an aging bureaucrat? Perhaps it is the labeling of candidates as either liberal or conservative. Perhaps life is becoming too much like a TV reality show! Bobby Kennedy came from a rich conservative family, worked for the McCarthy committee and moved on to fight on the side of farm workers and other union members. He ended up as a strong advocate for the poor all over the world and was an inspiration to many especially the young.
No matter who wins the 2016 presidential election we will still need to fill a gap in national leadership and promote young political candidates who can inspire hope and motivate the next generation of Americans to selfless service.
A good start to this promotion might be the publication of Tye’s inspiring biography, Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon.