I agree with George Will that the assassination of President John F. Kennedy changed America and changed the Left in America. But we disagree with how it changed Liberals and American liberalism, that really the Left changed. Now what is the Left, it is a group of leftist political factions including Liberals and Progressives on the Center-Left in America. But goes over to Democratic Socialists and Social-Democrats, people who came alive in American politics in a huge way in the late 1960s. In response to the Vietnam War and wanting to take on American capitalism, corporate America and deal with poverty in America in a huge way.
The New Left wanted to make America more like Europe and everything else, but as I said before it wasn’t Liberals that changed in America. But the broader Left which is what changed with Democratic Socialists and Social Democrats having a much bigger voice and influence in American politics. The death of President Kennedy was tragic in many ways and I believe most of them obvious. The fact that the President of the United States could be assassinated in a country that is as strong as America.
But more importantly the tragedy it was for the Kennedy Family especially Jack Kennedy’s wife Jackie and their kids. But parents and siblings as well the entire Kennedy Family. But what is less obvious if you just look at it from a hard-core political point of view and the politics of it, is that it changed the Democratic Party and changed the Democratic Left in America.
Because Jack Kennedy represented the transition from the FDR New Deal movement in the Democratic Party, to more of a movement about individual freedom and liberty. And what can government do for the people who need it so they can take care of themselves. Rather than creating new programs to take care of people instead. We’ll never know this of course, but had President Kennedy not had been assassinated in 1963 or ever, most likely he gets reelected in 1964 and finishes his two terms leaving in the solid Liberal Democratic leadership.
And America does not get involved in the Vietnam War as far as trying to take it over and win the war for the South Vietnam. And there is no need for an anti-war-movement in the Democratic Party and the party is not divided in 1968 and yes there is a strong contest to see who replaces President Kennedy. Between Vice President Lyndon Johnson, Senator Hubert Humphrey and perhaps even Robert Kennedy. But not to the point that is would’ve risked Democrats losing to Republicans in 1968. The party would’ve been in much better position without the Vietnam War and the New-Left radicals on the march and so-forth.
The assassination of President Kennedy left a real leadership void not only in the Democratic Party, but on the Democratic Left. And instead of the country just moving forward and just addressing domestic problems like healthcare, civil rights and others, we get into Vietnam, we have race-riots because of the racism going on in the South and other places. Dealing with other issues like poverty and the New Left that came of age in the late 1960s comes alive to take the Democratic Party away from the liberal and progressive establishments that ran the party before.