The Democratic establishment is desperately trying to find new faces to use to boost the party’s failing brand. As such, Congressman Joseph Kennedy III has emerged as the latest faux hero of the Trump resistance. Nancy Pelosi is grooming him for party leadership due to his name recognition and connections to donors. His grandmother, Ethel Kennedy, hosted fundraisers for his 2015 election, selling tickets for $38,800 each. Politico recently published a profile on him that read like an advertorial. It touted his family name but attempted to assert his individuality—without actually pointing out anything unique about his politics besides citing viral video clips of him. The article noted, “Still, those who have known Kennedy for years say the speech and several others since then, including one viewed more than 15 million times touting diversity after white nationalists’ violent Charlottesville rally, represent the person they have always known, the man who finally seems to be coming into his own on Capitol Hill.”
Kennedy’s top campaign donor in 2016, Crescent Capital, profits from investing in debt. His top campaign donor in 2017 is Bank of America. He has also received donations from Bain Capital and Citigroup. Donors to his leadership PAC include oil and gas exploration company Global Petroleum, weapons manufacturer Raytheon, Merrill Lynch, and other Wall Street firms. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws rated Kennedy a “D,” in line with most Republicans, even though Massachusetts decriminalized marijuana last year. Kennedy has also advocated for using military force against Iran. Though the majority of Democrats in the House have co-sponsored a Medicare for All bill, Kennedy has refrained from doing so. In 2012, Kennedy co-sponsored a bill to raise the cap on loans from the Export-Import Bank by $25 billion, 83 percent of which went to Boeing. This bill highlights that Kennedy wholeheartedly supports free trade, which has traditionally benefited corporations and the wealthy at the expense of working, middle class, and low income Americans.
Establishment Democrats are enamored with Joe Kennedy because he fundraised for Hillary Clinton alongside Chelsea Clinton, has strong relationships donors and lobbyists, and his politics are moderate. Politicians like Kennedy won’t fight against wealth inequality and war or fight for workers’ rights and social justice because they accept campaign donations from corporations that profit from these inequities. Instead, Democrats like Kennedy depend on political theater and marketing viral moments to manufacture support.
The political establishment expected Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush to be the frontrunners in their party’s primaries in the 2016 election. Despite being well-funded, Bush’s campaign floundered, and though Clinton managed to win her party’s nomination, her record proved to be a liability. The last few decades have been dominated by Bushes and Clintons, and now some in the Democratic Party are trying to develop a new dynasty to compensate for their lack of new ideas.