June 6th marked the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. Just a couple of months after that, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. met the same fate: murdered because he preached peace. Like his brother before him, Bobby Kennedy knew that the war in Vietnam and racism were destroying this country and, like his brother, he was willing to end the war and take the racists head on.
Today America is in the quagmire of yet another unwinnable war, and the racialism exhibited by the right wing talk radio and neo-Nazi white supremacists over the election of America’s first African-American president floods the internet and the airways as self-serving, egotistical power-hungry politicians of all political persuasions use their positions to advance their own personal wealth.
Moments before the collapse of the stock market in 2008, members of the Financial and Banking Committees were warned by industry lobbyists that something bad was going to happen. Many on those committees used that insider knowledge to protect themselves from financial ruin — and in that moment of ‘enlightenment’ went the ideal that members of Congress are there to serve and defend the constitution of the United States.
This week on the Rachel Maddow Show, Ms. Maddow reported on the number of ex US Senators who are now corporate lobbyists. This is not new; politicians have been using their power for their own personal wealth and power since governments were formed centuries ago. Many politicians who walk the halls of the Capitol would make the Borgias green with envy because of the manner in which members of Congress have manipulated the system for their own benefit.
There are many politicians who exhibit neither shame nor scruples during their daily dealings in the business of governing the country. Self promotion of their own self-worth seems to be their objective. Time after time those who were sent to Washington by supportive voters use their ‘insider’ information to build their own financial wealth. They seem not to care what the public thinks and many believe it is their reward for public service. In fact, the current crop of Washington politicians found it necessary to write legislation that “indemnifies” members of Congress from prosecution for the same actions that many have been indicted for and convicted of insider trading. What many members of Congress did with the information given to them by banking lobbyists, you or I would have been arrested and charged with felonies for using that information for our own gain.This past winter former Rep. and ex-con Robert Ney, who was convicted of bribery in the Jack Abramoff scandal, spoke out against the rampant corruption in Washington and touted his memoir of his time in Washington in a scathing new book “Sideswiped: Lessons Learned Courtesy of the Hit Men of Capitol Hill.” In his book Ney paints a picture of a Washington DC seeped in greed, debauchery and money.
And this week former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham was released from prison for taking more than $2 million dollars in bribes from defense contractors. The list of politicians that were sent to Washington to serve their country and succumb to the corruption that is the disease of public service is long and inglorious.
In 1968 America was on the brink of anarchy, with an endless war, race riots prompted by decades of segregation and the threat of annihilation from foreign lands. Today, we are still at war, racism is rampant in the hearts of many Americans and the nature of world events puts the country at risk from people thousands of miles away. In 45 years since the death of Bobby Kennedy not much has changed, there were members of congress back then who used every means they could to enhance their wealth and power and there still are.
It is time for the Bobby Kennedys of this generation to step up to the plate and demand a better America for all and not just a select few. It is time for America to look for leaders who hold the interest of the entire nation — all of its people — in their hearts. Leaders are needed who aren’t looking just for a way to make their own lives better, but who are seeking betterment for every American .
I cried as I relived the death of Bobby Kennedy, as I am sure many Americans did. The sadness of his passing still remains as vivid as it was on that tragic day, but what really makes me cry is the unfulfilled dreams of what America could have been if only Rafer Johnson or Rosey Greer could have reached out and stopped the assassin’s bullets.