Merely a hiatus
Q: Rep. Patrick Kennedy says he won't run for re-election, raising the possibility that his family's political dynasty has come to an end. To what degree do family connections and famous names fuel success? By giving up his political power and status as keeper of the Kennedy legacy, is Patrick Kennedy letting down his family and followers?
America, thankfully, is not a place governed by an aristocracy who, by position of birth, somehow deserves to be our leaders. King George of England had a different view of this in the 1770s, but our citizen-soldiers forced his defeated army back to England. America established a new and exciting idea of a democratically elected government: of the people, by the people and for the people.
Still, we have had some family dynasties in American politics. Our recent president, George W. Bush, was the son of a president and grandson of a senator. Former Vice President Al Gore was the son of an influential senator. Family political dynasties date back to our founding fathers, with John Adams and his son, John Quincy Adams, both achieving the presidency. Even in our democratic society, family connections can certainly add to the chance for political success.
The Kennedy family has been involved in American politics since the family patriarch Joe Kennedy served as the U.S. ambassador to Great Britain before World War II. Family involvement in politics continued over the years with his sons and grandchildren.
Could the Kennedy political dynasty be coming to an end with Patrick Kennedy moving on to other pursuits? I would argue that this is merely a hiatus. There are many members in the next generation of this noteworthy family, and they will likely find more than a few doors open if and when they are tempted to run for office. In a family known for its commitment to public service, it is likely we have not seen the last Kennedy hold office.
Perhaps we can take guidance from one of the brightest stars from that family, President John F. Kennedy, who said, "Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future."
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