Kennedy III: walking on the tracks of his seniors ?

WILLIAM MOUELLE MAKOLLE, traduit par Sylia Amrarene
19 Janvier 2014

Joseph “Joe” Patrick Kennedy III, 33 years old, has finally realized the dream of his famous clan: recapture the American Congress. Elected as representative of Massachusetts at the end of 2012, he seems to follow in the footsteps of his brilliant predecessors. But how far can he go? Portrait.

Crédits: Courtney Sacco Photography
Crédits: Courtney Sacco Photography
Joe Kennedy III graduated in management at the University of Stanford, but also in law at Harvard. He entered politics unofficially in 2006 as co-President of the reelection campaign of his great-uncle Ted. More officially, he ran for the House of Representatives in February 2012. He won the general elections with 61% of the votes, became representative of the 4th district of Massachusetts on November, 6th 2012, after a controversial electoral butchery that followed the 2010 census for the 113th Congress. Of course he would also like to have the same brilliant careers as his seniors. First, Ted’s and John’s, his great-uncles, respectively Senator of Massachusetts from 1962 to 2009 and 35th President of the United States (also former Senator of the 11th district of Massachusetts). Then, his father’s career, Joseph P. Kennedy II, who was representative of the 8th district of the same state. And maybe his grand-father’s, Bobby, former Attorney General. The Kennedys’ motto: always reign on Massachusetts.

Nevertheless, the figure of Joe Kennedy III would make us think he is only a pastiche of his illustrious ancestors, with no real political personality. He could simply be a Kennedy, among his own, using a family name to educate himself. It may be the burden of tradition. Joe Kennedy III’s name comes from his father’s and JFK’s father’s. This allows him to stress the occasion, to ensure a future. But it is also an open door to constant comparisons. He does not drink, he seems introverted and juvenile, but he slowly assures his political convictions, as his values; the same way John made his way to the White House at 43 - or the same way Ted become Senator at 30. Like any Kennedy, he is a Democrat, a catholic, and a Liberal Democrat in favor of gun control. Also, a Liberal Democrat we have seen at the Gay Pride on the last 8th of June in Boston, with his friend the basketball player Jason Collins. A liberal, pro-choice Democrat, who defends the right to abort. A Liberal Democrat who supports the different regulations about ecology and sustainable development.


During the democrat Convention of September 2012, he promoted the work of “Uncle Teddy”. He stayed the same shy Joe moving on political stage, without being seen too much. During the same year, he was opposed to the republican Sean Bielat in a campaign. Gene Lavanchy, presenter on Fox 25 WFXT, continuously insisted on Joe’s lack of real experience and on his family name: “Is there another reason for you to be the favorite, except for your family name”? And Sean Bielat went further, arguing the 4 million dollars of the young candidate: “He hopes his family name will be enough, as well as his money… In my opinion, experience is important, and he does not have any”. But Joe Kennedy does have experience. In 2004, he joined the Peace Corps for two years (created by JFK) in Dominican Republic, became consultant for the president of East Timor and was in charge of the development studies for the Program of United Nations. Finally, in September 2011, he was named District Prosecutor of the state of Massachusetts. Whether the situation will be an advantage or not for the young representative remains to be seen.

The mediatized means of Fox do not stop JPK III from defending himself. His name and financial resources do not have to be considered anymore when he tries to fight for his district and country. He has values and ideas. “Everytime [Sean Bielat] talks about my family and experience. I think it is just a distraction he is using to avoid the political questions”. That way, when JPK III’s objectives are considered, we notice he is really aware of political, economic and social problems the United States cope, which are employment, budget, internal security and immigration. On his website,, his positions on these main issues can be evaluated.

A winning Democrat speech?

When it is about economy, “promoting growth and full employment in the 4th district of Massachusetts is [his] main priority in Congress”. Appointed president of the advisory council of STEM (Sciences of technology, engineering and mathematics) by the governor Deval Patrick, he focuses on entrepreneurship in the sectors of biotechnology and renewable energies. That way, he produces 40% of the GDP of Massachusetts. During a visit of the employment agency of Taunton on the 15th of July, Kennedy deplored the lack of competence and the unemployment rate (7.5%), especially in the sectors of industry. In Last August, he introduced a draft law, the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act of 2013, in order to develop the research via a network of regional institutes. He also declared his approval for a possible reform on the American fiscal code, a priority of the 113th Congress, always more and more complicated.

About the budget, Kennedy supports the “Buffett Rule”, the proposition made by Barack Obama and Warren Buffett, that assures “no household earning more than a million dollars per year should pay fewer taxes than a middle class family”. Introduced in 2011, the “Buffett Rule” was not a bill for the fiscal year of 2013, but a directive to follow. In terms of health, Kennedy naturally defends the Obamacare of 2010, which is evil for republicans. During his campaign, he was opposed to the Path to Prosperity of the representative Paul Ryan, who wanted to remove it for the fiscal year of 2012.

Finally, concerning the questions of society, the website On the Issues gives more information. Kennedy holds up, in compliance with the directives of his party, the bipartite law on immigration, decried by the president of the Chamber John Boehner, in order to naturalize 11 millions of undocumented people. He is against the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage between a man and a woman, but the section 3 was abrogated last June 26th by the Supreme Court. He wishes to ensure equal pay between men and women and voted in favor of a law to ensure the safety of women suffering from domestic or external violence, last January 22nd.

Projects, but sometimes unbalanced

Kennedy sits at the committee of foreign affairs (sub-committees of terrorism, non-proliferation and business with Middle East and North Africa) and at the committee of science, space and technology (sub-committees of energy and space). Until now, he only introduced two projects to the Chamber. The proposal H.R.915, introduced on the 28th of February 2013, intends to create a “memorial to celebrate the instauration of the Peace Corps and the ideals of peace, as well as a friendship between countries founded on these ideals”. There again, Kennedy seems to have the great desire of glorifying his familial heritage. Moreover, the project seems particularly irrelevant next to the bigger problems of the country. The proposal H.R.293, introduced on August 8th of 2013, requests the attribution of the gold medal of Congress to Shimon Peres.

Nevertheless, if a representative can be instigator of a bill, he can also present a bill with someone else. Therefore, he can accept to work with other representatives if he considers the project is doable. Today, Joe Kennedy co-presented 97 bills and cancellations. They are about the discriminations American Sikhs suffered from, about the introduction of an amendment on gender equality, about the reinforcement of security in American embassies and consulates, and also about a strategic partnership with Israel or even about student loans.

If today JPK III has succeeded in having a real political background, at the Chamber, the actual trends and the increase of the State’s and American population’s needs do not allow Kennedy to evolve politically for now.

From representative to senator ?

In November 2014, the mid-term elections will take place in order to renew the Senate, the Chamber of Representatives and the governors of several States. Concerning the rise to Senate in the state of Massachusetts, Ed Markey is the only Democrat candidate. He is the current senator replacing John Kerry, elected with 54% of the votes during the partial elections of June 2013. The Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren, who was elected in 2012, will complete her mandate in 2018. Thus, Joe Kennedy could be a candidate only for the succession of John Kerry (or Ed Markey), elected in 2008. However, it would be unlikely for JPK III to think he would face Ed Markey for the primaries of September 2014. If “Uncle Teddy” was elected senator at 30 years-old in 1962, the circumstances are not the same today. On the other side of the Atlantic, it is often reminded that Kennedy is a “freshman”, a beginner. According to a survey made by MassInc Polling Group, Ed Markey should be winning the elections up to 45% against Scott Brown (38%). This is the reason why Joe Kennedy III cannot hope to sit at the Senate until 2018 or 2020.

It is inconceivable for the young representative to become a senator in 2014, but it is even crazier to think he could become president in 2016. If he tries, he would have to face potential candidates such as Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton, whose political action committee The Ready for Hillary obtained 1.25 million dollars last June. Her republican opponents, Rand Paul, Jeff Bush and Chris Christie would also be tough adversaries. Finally, it would be inappropriate for Kennedy to be chosen as fellow candidate by any other Democrat candidate because of his lack of experience of course, but especially because Massachusetts has always been a Democrat state. Therefore, the collaboration would be pointless, which was not the case with the Johnson-Kennedy collaboration in 1960.

For the time being, the success Kennedy has for his sympathy will allow him to be re-elected at the Chamber of representatives, especially since Democrats really count on it. Thanks to the experience he has acquired since the beginning of his mandate, he would be able to change committee. And even if absolutely nothing is predictable, maybe someday he will be called Mister President.