Jimmy Kimmel hosted Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy III on his talk show last night. Kennedy, the grandson of esteemed politician Robert Kennedy and grandnephew of John F. Kennedy, was recently selected to deliver the Democratic response to Trump’s State of the Union address in February. With several politicians dubbing him as the new face for Democratic Party, young Kennedy is now being looked at more closely under the public eye.
Despite many of Kennedy’s promising policies on gun control, support for the Affordable Care Act and advocacy for gay rights, a few of his stances still remain troubling. And Kimmel was not hesitant to question these views in front of a large public audience. Most notably, Mr. Kennedy has pushed back against the legalization of marijuana in this country, contradicting the majority of Massachusetts legislators who have openly declared their support for the measure. In fact, 37-year-old Kennedy diverges from many lawmakers in the Democratic Party by voting against several marijuana bills, even for medical purposes.
And it’s clear why Kennedy, a Catholic who said in his interview that he abstains from drinking alcohol, would not be comfortable with seeing the drug being sold for recreational purposes. Even so, his concerns with the legalization are not entirely true or justifiable. He has claimed issue with marijuana for its association with mental health issues and addictive tendencies. But marijuana’s medical benefits have been known to help people suffering from anxiety disorders and have cured many people’s ailments. It’s a necessity for a healthy life for some.
Kennedy also said he believes that marijuana bills in Massachusetts are being passed without much consideration, but this is entirely false. After weed was officially legalized in the state, lawmakers drafted a commision in order for a group of well-informed officials to consider things more closely. They are making sure that medical and recreational marijuana will be handled safely and will only have positive effects for the state’s economy and residents. Officials are being cautious and conscious of the things that can go wrong if marijuana is found in the wrong hands and for the wrong purposes. If he’s looking for more support, Kennedy should look more closely into pot policies and understand what’s being done right now for it.
On the other hand, Kennedy’s skepticism on things like pot and certain health care bills can serve as common ground to work with legislators on the other side of the aisle. Even though Kennedy is an advocate for the single-payer health care, he is not completely on board with the current bill for it in Congress. However, this criticism could ultimately result in a better health plan system for all Americans. Instead of rushing the process for having something in place, Kennedy wants to ensure everyone has access to quality health care and that we do it right.
If Kennedy is able to acknowledge his moderate liberal stance, then maybe he can appeal to right-wing politicians. Being able to compromise and draft policies that resonate with both parties is key for an effective political leader.
Time and time again, we witness extreme polarization of political parties in the American system of democracy. Liberals tend to be far-left on most issues and Republicans air on the side of extreme conservatism. With each election cycle, Americans seemed to be voting favorably for the sensational, extreme candidate — like in the 2016 presidential elections, with overwhelming support for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and of course, Donald Trump.
With rumors of young Kennedy running for presidency in 2020, maybe it’s time we look for a leader who can bring both parties to the negotiation table. Only then can we make strides in affecting changing in this country, especially when Trump seems to be reversing the progress we made in previous administrations.