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- Rep. Joe Kennedy a 37-year-old Massachusetts Democrat, delivered the party’s response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night.
- Many Democrats are celebrating Kennedy, a scion of one of the country’s most prominent political dynasties, as the future of the party.
- Outspoken on economic inequality and civil rights issues, Kennedy is expected to channel progressive rage against the Trump administration in a polished speech.
Rep. Joe Kennedy, a 37-year-old Massachusetts Democrat and a scion of the Kennedy political dynasty, delivered the Democratic Party’s response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night.
Many top Democrats hailed Kennedy’s selection as a sign that the party is looking to bring fresh faces to the forefront of national politics.
“Joe Kennedy is the future,” President Barack Obama’s former speechwriter and foreign policy adviser, Ben Rhodes, tweeted last week. “Glad to see the Democrats embracing that.”
Jon Favreau, another former Obama speechwriter, has called Kennedy an “inspiring leader.”
A Harvard Law graduate and former Peace Corps volunteer first elected in 2012, Kennedy is well-known among the party’s grassroots for his viral YouTube and Facebook videos of his speeches and floor remarks. In one such video, Kennedy called the GOP’s efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare “an act of malice.”
“There is no mercy in a system that makes health care a luxury,” Kennedy said, citing Scripture. “This bill is no act of mercy. It is an act of malice.”
In line with his family’s political legacy, the three-term congressman has been most outspoken on issues of civil rights and economic inequality and will bring a transgender soldier as his guest to the address, an act of protest against the Trump administration’s ban on transgender people serving in the military.
“My hope is to make the argument for a country where every one of us is guaranteed the social and economic justice we deserve,” Kennedy told Business Insider of his speech. “Diman Regional Voc-Tech and the city of Fall River will help highlight the resilience and ingenuity that makes our nation strong.”
But Kennedy is a new face – if not a new name – to most Americans, and his Tuesday speech will be something of a national debut.
In her press release announcing Kennedy’s selection, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the congressman a spokesman for working-class Americans.
“While President Trump has consistently broken his promises to the middle class, Congressman Kennedy profoundly understands the challenges facing hard-working men and women across the country,” Pelosi wrote.
But critics, from the left and right, say Kennedy – the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy and grand-nephew of President John F. Kennedy and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who has inherited millions from his family – is instead representative of a Democratic Party of the past and is a member of the country’s most elite.
“What’s going to change the downward spiral of the Democratic Party is a rich nepotistic prince with inherited wealth of $15 million who is vehemently against marijuana legalization & pro-surveillance. Just what they need,” liberal journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted.
A Republican PAC, America Rising, called Kennedy a “rich, boring Pelosi ally” in response to news of his selection.
Kennedy is playing down speculation that he’ll run for president anytime soon.
“I don’t give a whole lot of thought or credence to questions about what comes on next, what goes on next,” he told The Boston Globe on Saturday. “My life is busy enough at the moment that I don’t even really know where I’m having lunch today.”
Kennedy delivered his speech from Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School in Fall River, Massachusetts – a largely blue collar community – in front of a group of students and community members.