Joe Kennedy III: Last serving member of political dynasty leaves Congress with speech lashing out at American greed

Joe Kennedy in his farewell speech urged the House to work on the nation’s struggle with inequality

Namita Singh
Thursday 10 December 2020 09:06 GMT
Representative Joe Kennedy III lashes out at American greed
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With less than a month left in office, the outgoing Massachusetts Representative Joe Kennedy III used his farewell speech from the House floor on Wednesday to lash out at the “greatest lie of our times” – that American resources are “finite” and too scarce to go around. 

In his nearly five-minutes long speech, Mr Kennedy said the country’s real problem was “scarcity, [but] greed”.

The last serving member of the legendary Kennedy political dynasty urged the House to work on the nation’s struggle with inequality, while highlighting the inherent contradiction in the founding story of America.  

“Here’s what I know: That we are a complicated and messy country,” he said. “That we violated our founding promises before the ink was dry. We boldly declared ‘We The People’ and promptly defined ‘we’ as rich, white, Protestant, men.”

Mr Kennedy, who has been a presence in the House of Representatives since 2013, opted to run for Senate this year, instead of for re-election. He was defeated by incumbent Senator Ed Markey earlier in September, however, and his term in Congress comes to an end on 3 January.  

“Our arc isn’t clean, but it is clear," he said. “Each generation expands the definition of ‘we’. We suffer setbacks. We get pushed off-track and sometimes can’t feel the progress. We fight amongst ourselves. But still – generation after generation – we expand.”

“This,” he said, “is the counterweight to the great lie of these times - that the American pie is finite.  That for my family to survive, yours must suffer. That the richest nation on earth is plagued by scarcity rather than greed.”  

He added that he believes that the future of the nation is “big and bright", saying that “it will take everything and everyone to reach there."

"I hope that a new generation of Americans will rise knowing that the people’s House stands tall for them.”

Mr Kennedy, 40, is the grandnephew of former US president John F Kennedy.

After securing his congressional seat in 2012, he went on to win re-elections in 2014, 2016 and 2018. Though his next move remains shrouded in mystery, he’s been mentioned as a possibility for a post in President-elect Joe Biden’s administration.

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