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The Downfall of the Last Great American Dynasty


Written by Devon Mitchell

“There goes the last great American dynasty,” – Taylor Swift, “The Last Great American Dynasty”  

For nearly 100 years the Massachusetts Democrats have been dominated by an American dynasty. Beginning with Joe Kennedy Sr. in the 1930s, the Kennedy line has had a rich history in politics. But every dynasty must come to an end, and the Kennedy’s saw theirs last week during the Massachusetts primary when Joe Kennedy III lost to incumbent Ed Markey.  

The progressive Senator, Ed Markey, had his work cut out for him when Joseph Kennedy III announced he was running for the Senate seat. After all, a Kennedy has never lost a Massachusetts election. Markey’s determination, progressive agenda, and previous work in the Senate proved enough to outweigh the great-nephew of President John F. Kennedy in the eyes of the voters.   

The “downfall” of the Kennedy dynasty has been coming for a while. After the death of Senator Ted Kennedy in 2009, it was thought that his nephew, Joe Kennedy II, would campaign for the so-called “Kennedy Seat” in Massachusetts. Joe Kennedy II did not pursue this seat. Perhaps he realized what his son failed to; in a democracy, it is absurd to have a position of power which is passed down through a bloodline.   

Personally, I think it is extremely important Joe Kennedy III lost this race. Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-Kennedy by any means. In fact, I have a shelf on my bookcase dedicated to biographies about the Kennedy family, complete with a bust of JFK I use as a bookend. I am not trying to bash the Kennedys. However, America’s democracy was not built on bloodline politics. Representatives are elected to terms, which eventually run out. At that point, if he or she does not campaign again, then someone new is supposed to take their place and bring fresh views and ideas to the office. How are we supposed to move forward as a country if the same names keep appearing on the ballot? We need those new ideas and fresh perspectives especially in a time when the face of America is changing so drastically. Gone are the days of old money politicians from a well-known family. Didn’t we prove that in the election of representatives such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?  

Ed Markey’s win in the Massachusetts primary is a symbolic moment. It represents a new era in American politics. These political ‘dynasties’ such as the Kennedy’s or the Bush’s can’t succeed in modern-day politics. This is a positive sign; it means we are moving forward and stepping out of the past. While the Kennedy family is probably mourning this loss, I can’t help but think Markey is taking one from Taylor Swift’s book saying, “I had a marvelous time ruining everything.”