Someone else has noticed it: Within a lot of vague talk about “Washington is broken” and “a new generation”, there really isn’t much reason for Joe Kennedy III to be running for Senate. Except, of course, for the fact that he took a poll, and the poll told him his last name was Kennedy.
Seriously … Is anyone getting much off of this?
“Because our system is broken,” he said at the start of an interview on Thursday night. “And I think the moment we’re in demands that people do everything they can to try to fix it. And that’s making sure that the voices out there that feel like they are left out, cut out, taken advantage of, looked over, not part of that system — that they’ve got a senator out there that’s going to meet them where they are, that’s going to show up, that’s going to champion those voices.”
You’ll notice that exactly none of this has anything to do with a.) any shortcomings, real or alleged, of the incumbent Ed Markey; or b.) the strengths, real or alleged, of Joe Kennedy. He’s trying to sound like Ayanna Pressley … which he is not. It’s not at all clear what he would bring to the Senate: what particular policy background; what demographic representation; what enduring cause or undying dream.
At least with Markey, I know a handful of things for which he’s going to fight:
- Green New Deal. It is his life’s work — now with a youthful grassroots upsurge, and a charismatic partner in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (whose name Markey clearly enjoys dropping). It is a sweeping policy blueprint on the existential threat to humankind and the most comprehensive political challenge certainly in my lifetime. Ed took it on; he’s ready to do the work; he’s done it before.
- Opioids. Markey recognized the opioid/fentanyl crisis relatively early on, in 2014. He has consistently advocated for the wider availability of Narcan to first responders, which can prevent overdose deaths; and for more treatment beds.
- Internet: Safety, privacy, and freedom. Ed’s Privacy Bill of Rights, modeled on European Union protections, has garnered praise from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Free Press Action:
“Senator Markey’s bill will help enable people to use the internet without fear of exploitation or discrimination from companies intent on mining their private data. People must have the right to safely choose who they give their personal information to and need enforceable rules over how it can be used.”
This also includes Markey’s leadership on Net Neutrality, which is more than a consumer protection — it’s a linchpin of democracy itself. And given Elizabeth Warren’s eagerness to take on Facebook and Big Tech generally, one can hardly imagine a more valuable legislative wingman for a President Warren.
- Consumer protection. On sketchy cable fees, including set-top boxes; on robocalls; and on and on and on. He’s always on top of these.
Markey embodies public service: A rather simple and old-fashioned idea that government should protect the ordinary person against the wealthy and predatory. He represents the bridge between the 1970’s post-Watergate, Unsafe At Any Speed era; and our own era of Trumpian corruption, social media disinformation, and endless data breaches. He is constantly engaged in these fights, big and small — whether anyone notices or not. He brings knowledge, expertise, and professionalism to his work — each of which is under attack in this corporate/Trumpist era.
Now, dealing with the threat of global warming is by far the most important of these. Perhaps I am mixing rah-rah political exhortation (Go Ed!)with the prophetic, judgmental mode: “The end is nigh, wake up you dumb @#$%” — but under the exceedingly grim circumstances, I won’t apologize for that. And I reject jconway’s dismissal of the climate movement as “lily-white”, or of the issue as something distant. Both assertions are false. The youth climate movement is multi-cultural, and in fact largely female-driven. And the consequences of global warming will be borne wildly disproportionately by the most vulnerable among us — right here: The poor; the urban; the Central American refugee (for example). Furthermore the economic program of Green New Deal is aimed to benefit those who have been left out of our economy today. This is a program meant to be rolled out and executed within the next ten years, as the exigency of climate change requires. It is real; it is now; it is tangible; and it is equitable — finally.
So I know why we need to send Ed Markey back for another term — especially this coming term, hopefully with a President Warren (et al) and a Democratic Senate.
Joe? I don’t know — and I’m not sure he does, either.