Are you a member of the Kennedy or Clinton wing of the Democratic Party?
This is one of the questions posed by the 2008 Democratic presidential campaign. I associate the Kennedy Administration and family with idealism, vigor and hope. The Clinton wing will always be associated with Monica Lewinsky, impeachment, indictment, guilt and near removal of office.
On public policy the Clinton wing crowed over school uniforms, don’t ask, don’t tell and a proposal for midnight basketball. Bill Clinton, we all know, governed as a quasi-Republican. By his association with the Democratic Leadership Council he has aligned himself with the corporatist, neo-conservative wing of the Democratic Party.
The Clintons are running a campaign of the old politics—the politics of the 1990s that divides the country into interest groups and then pits one group against the other. I have already written about Bill Clinton’s injection of race into this campaign, previously. I will not belabor the point, here.
The Kennedy legacy has endured for almost fifty years it emboldened all with a sense of hope and purpose. John, Robert and Teddy Kennedy, with the able assistance of that astute politician Lyndon Johnson, although tone-deaf with regard to the War in Vietnam; he was advised by the war machine, brought us the Great Society.
However, we must weigh Vietnam against the passage for the Civil and Voting Rights Acts, Medicare, federal grants for low income young people to attend college. Millions of Americans were and are able to be participants in the mainstream of American life because of this aid. Many minorities as well as became vital members of our national community through Great Society programs.
The New Frontier gave us the Peace Crops and a space program that put a man on the moon and is responsible for today’s shuttle project and other advances in space exploration.
The effectuation of these noble ambitions brought about real change in America. We need real change, again. We need universal health care coverage. We need first class schools for our first class kids. We need an environmental policy to control the potential ravishes of globalwarming. We need to be assured that our parents and grandparents retire with dignity and that hard work is rewarded by homeownership not foreclosure. Our country has 45 million Americans languishing in poverty and tens of millions more on the brink of separation from the mainstream of American life to become a part of the dispossessed, downtrodden, hopeless and forgotten class.
The question we must ask ourselves, my fellow patriots, is whose legacy will lead us out of the problems we face at home and abroad. Who has a clear vision of the better nature of our angels, Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton? The Kennedy legacy or the Clintonian philosophy of divide, conquer and half-measures that reward us with false hope.
Did Bill Clinton honestly put people first?