Kennedys succeed in a new generation

Joseph Patrick Kennedy III, the incumbent Congressman for Massachusetts 4th district, retained his seat this past Election Day, November 8. Kennedy was challenged by Republican David Rosa but won the district 70 to 30%. His popularity in the Boston area, specifically among young people, can be attributed to the Kennedy legacy in Boston and to his connection with the youth, who have given him the nickname “JPK III.”

The Kennedys, referred to as the “House of Kennedy” by The Guardian in a piece about America’s “Royal Families,” have been heavily involved in Democratic politics since the 1950s. Kennedys have been in local government, both houses of Congress and, most notably a president. John F. Kennedy, the 35th president, remains popular today with 74% of Americans calling him the “Best Modern President” in a Gallup poll.

JPK III is not only similar to his great-uncle, “JFK,” for their similar nicknames, but both men were young and generally seen as attractive when running for office. President Kennedy was the youngest man to be elected president, at forty-three years old, and Joseph Kennedy ran for his seat in Congress when he was thirty-three years old. Because JFK was so young, he “symbolized—as he well realized—a new generation and its coming-of-age,” said Alan Brinkley in the Atlantic.

Joseph Kennedy III has piggybacked on JFK’s legacy by being a “role model” for young people. “He really cares about the voices and ideas of people in his district who can’t even vote yet,” said Spencer Babcock ’17, a member of his Youth Council, which serves as an opportunity for youth interested in politics and activism to test the waters and for the Representative to hear opinions of future voters.

While serving in Congress, Kennedy has remained true to the tradition of Kennedy Democrat politics while also forging his own path by holding some traditionally conservative views. He serves on The Committee on Foreign Affairs as well as being a member of the Congressional Progressive Congress. He is also a steadfast defender of The Patriot Act, a conservative stance, which has lead to criticism for his lack of support for civil liberties. “His colleagues describe him as a hard worker who keeps his head down,” according to WBUR.  

Kennedy first ran for Congress in 2012 when he was the Assistant District Attorney for Middlesex County. He ran unopposed in the Democratic Primary and beat his Republican opponent. Kennedy ran for reelection in 2014 completely unopposed.

Kennedy is a lifelong Boston local. He went to BB&N and Harvard Law School, where he met his future wife in future Massachusetts Senator Professor Elizabeth Warren’s class. He still lives in the Boston area when Congress isn’t in session.

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