Despite the fact that the United States is a proud national republic, there is no denying that the Kennedys have long been viewed as America’s equivalent of a royal family. So picture this if you will: Caroline Kennedy, daughter of one of America’s highest rated presidents in history and last surviving member of ‘Camelot’s First Family’ running in the next presidential election in 2019. She would be running in her father’s footsteps, little over fifty years on since his own presidency: a presidency so steeped in myths, legends and Arthurian imagery that his administration and time in office has been truly glorified beyond any other modern political individual.
Caroline’s rise, the potential for the revival of one of the U.S’s great dynastic families, and the possibility of her becoming President in 2020 are all greatly exciting prospects. If Caroline were to become President, it would make a welcome move in dissipating the current aura of irrational politics and inject a much-needed sense of hope, excitement, rationality and inspiration back into American politics and society.
Caroline: A Short History
Living in her father’s shadow was never going to be easy for Caroline Kennedy. The first-born child to then Senator John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline Kennedy (nee Bouvier), Caroline Bouvier Kennedy was born on November 27th 1957 in Georgetown, Washington D.C. where she was to spend the first three years of her life. Her father would go on to win the 1960 Presidential election by less than 100’000 votes: the narrowest margin in US election history. Thus she would move with her parents in January 1961, to their new address of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: The White House.
Caroline was quite the introvert growing up. Like her father, who would much rather read than attend parties and social events, Caroline was never one to draw attention to herself. As well as her younger brother, John Jr, she remained unspoilt by her parents and family despite their great wealth. Jackie, in particular, wanted both of her children to have as normal a childhood as was possible. She was, since birth, of great interest to the nation who immediately fell in love with her. But any hopes of ‘normality’ for Caroline that Jackie longed for were shattered on November 22nd, 1963. A week after JFK’s assassination, Jackie and the children would move out of the White House and back to Georgetown. They would then move on to an apartment in New York City the following year.
Despite no longer being the President’s daughter, Caroline remained in the limelight. She began an internship in 1977 working for the New York Daily News. She graduated twice. Firstly from Harvard University in 1980. Secondly from Columbia Law School in 1988, where she was awarded a ‘Juris Doctor’. After graduating, her continued passion for the law led her to publish a book on civil rights. ‘In Our Defense: The Bill of Rights in Action’, published in 1991, critically examined the American constitution’s fourth amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement agencies, and makes for compelling reading.
Not only has Caroline been a prominent force in the political and legal spheres, she has also been prolific in raising serious funds for multiple charities too. From 2002 to 2004, she was a director at the Office of Strategic Partnerships within the New York Department of Education. It was during her time in this position that she would help raise more than $65 million to aid public schools right across the city.
Her first outing in politics would occur when in 2000 she would become a prominent supporter of Al Gore’s campaign for the Oval Office. Caroline was also a vocal supporter of Barack Obama in his running for the Presidency in 2008. She went all out in her support for Obama solidifying this within her New York Times article entitled “A President like my Father” in which she praises Obama’s great skills, personality and vision; linking them to those of her father before him.
Caroline did, in fact, have her sights on being a Senator in 2008. She expressed a keen interest in Hillary Clinton’s seat for New York; the same seat incidentally held by her uncle Robert Kennedy before his assassination in June 1968. Caroline had widespread support. She was backed by various prominent politicians and the New York Post. Regardless, she withdrew her ticket for ‘personal reasons’. Being a Kennedy, expectations of her were exceedingly high. She was heavily scrutinised during the race and was ultimately criticised for not being clear enough on many issues.
In the defeat of her Senate race, Caroline chose to focus her attention on supporting Obama for his re-election campaign in 2012. She gladly jumped on the trail, making appearances in three different states, in order to give speeches to the public. She sat among 34 other national co-chairs of Obama’s re-election campaign and was one of President Obama’s most prolific and avid supporters.
In 2014, for her efforts and support, President Obama chose Kennedy to be Ambassador to Japan. It was a role many believed she was not experienced for; due to her lack of foreign policy experience and limited knowledge of East-Asia. It was a job she had not anticipated. She was unsure whether she was ready to inherit such an important role. Upon analysis, it is clear she has inherited her parents’ charm and diplomatic skill. Whilst at first many were sceptical of Caroline’s appointment as ambassador, citing her lack of diplomatic experience, she certainly proved herself more than capable and has done an admirable job in tendering US-Japanese relations.
No longer ambassador, Caroline remains heavily involved in both US politics and law. She is an adviser to the Harvard Institute of Politics; built as a living memorial to her father. She also sits on the board of directors for the Commission on Presidential Debates and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Additionally, she is a member of both the New York and Washington D.C. bar associations.
President Caroline Kennedy?
Officially, Caroline has declined to say whether or not she has considered taking further political action. Many believe the Presidency is a position she should seriously consider. Sources close to Caroline have hinted the possibility of her running again for the Senate in the New York seat. She has remained relatively quiet on the political scene; whether on purpose or not. One can only relate to her remaining quiet, as the expectations upon her would be incredible: She has no escaping her family and its incredibly huge name and weight, both in the United States and globally.
Caroline is certainly aware of what has become known as the ‘Kennedy Curse’. The Kennedy family have not been too fortunate when it comes to life expectancy.
Firstly, Joe Kennedy Jr was to die in a plane crash during a top secret military mission during the last year of the Second World War. Kathleen ‘Kick’ Kennedy was to die in an airplane crash in 1948. Joe Kennedy Snr was to suffer a serious stroke in 1962. JFK was assassinated on November 22nd, 1963. Bobby Kennedy was assassinated on June 8th, 1968. Edward Kennedy was to have several ‘close calls’ across his lifetime. And her brother, John F. Kennedy Jr, was to die in a plane crash in July of 1999.
Whilst a purely superstitious belief, the Kennedy curse could never be far from Caroline’s mind, or for that matter any of the remaining Kennedy clan.
Regardless of her fears, she must step up to the mark. The Democrats are lacking any outstanding alternatives. Hillary may well run in 2020, but due to her shocking defeat to Donald Trump it would not surprise anyone if she wanted to withdraw; not least of all the female voters she so grasped to attain support from. Bernie Saunders may well re-emerge. Yet, against a political titan such as Kennedy, it would parallel the case of David Versus Goliath. Rather, one wonders whether Caroline would choose Bernie as her Vice President: the two of them would make an impressive and incredibly formidable team.
The call for Caroline to step up has only increased. CBS recently gushed to Kennedy in their interview with her on February 10th. It is intriguing that, despite revealing her intentions, one of the largest news organisation in the United States has already come forward and vowed extreme interest in her candidacy.
The argument exists that she currently lacks sufficient experience to run; the same argument was used against JFK when he ran for the Presidency in 1960. One has only to study Caroline’s past and observe her speak to see she is a natural diplomat and public speaker with some excellent political and legal experience; certainly more than many other Presidents and Presidential hopefuls in the past.
In the final analysis …
Fundamentally, Caroline must continue to develop and strengthen her own character. Like her father before her, she must appeal to Americans from all walks of life. She must recapture the trust and faith of those voters dismayed by Hillary Clinton’s defeat. She must strive to make Washington a cultural and intellectual hub of the world once again. It cannot be denied that America needs a ‘rekindling’ of political rationality after President Trump.
If Caroline decides she is capable, she must immediately focus on gaining support as early as possible. She must really hit the ground running in the hope of maximum impact come 2019. She must also work hard to live up to the incredible expectations the American people will have on her. Desires will arise for the rebuilding of the nation to the legendary ‘Camelot’ status; regardless of the accuracy of how truly utopian those days were. The mythology remains, and could prove to either help or hinder her chances and ratings, both during her time in office and in analysis afterwards.
Caroline must sooner rather than later begin to think seriously about her political future. Her gaining the presidency in all reality is a feasible possibility. Caroline must reflect upon her father’s wisdom. He once proclaimed that the journey of a thousand miles must always begin with a single step. Caroline must heed his words and take this first step. Not only for the benefit of America but the benefit of the world.