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Democrats fall back on traditional candidates after State of the Union

Democrats choose Joe Kennedy III to respond to president’s State of the Union

President+Donald+Trump+delivers+his+first+State+of+the+Union+address+before+a+joint+session+of+Congress+on+Capitol+Hill+in+Washington%2C+D.C.%2C+on+Tuesday%2C+Jan.+30%2C+2018.+%28Olivier+Douliery%2FAbaca+Press%2FTNS
President Donald Trump delivers his first State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS

President Donald Trump delivers his first State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS

TNS

TNS

President Donald Trump delivers his first State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS

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After President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address, the Democratic Party had an opportunity to respond with someone who the party felt could motivate voters.

Instead, it chose to rely on the past and one of its most popular political families by choosing Massachusetts representative Joe Kennedy III.

Kennedy, who was elected to the House of Representatives in 2013, is the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of former President John F. Kennedy.

The response after the address has long been used to showcase rising stars, and insiders have suggested that Kennedy’s speech is being used to position for a possible presidential run.

While Kennedy is a younger candidate than the party has promoted in recent years, he feels like a safe decision rather than an exciting one.

Speaking out of a garage in Fall River, Massachusetts, Kennedy showcased the charisma that his family was known for. Much of his speech was meant to push back against the president’s own, even acknowledging that Fall River was “an American city built by immigrants.”

Unfortunately, the choice highlights Democratic party relying on its legacies, rather than building new stars and ideas that appeal to younger voters.

According to an article from the Pew Research Center, Millennials now match Baby Boomers as the largest voting group in the United States. On top of that, most voters under 35 identify as Democrats, or lean toward the party.  

These numbers benefit the party, and yet they chose to rely on the legacy of a family who most young voters have little connection to.  This is dangerously close to the same mistake that the party made when party leadership assumed Hillary Clinton would easily win the presidency in 2016.

The announcement of Joe Kennedy may mean something to older voters, but younger voters cannot be expected to feel the same connection to a family that is most known for men who died when their parents where children.

But more importantly, Kennedy stands out in a time of changing demographics.

After electing the first black president and running its female presidential candidate, it is disappointing that the Democrats did not continue to promote alternative viewpoints. The use of a rich, white male seems like a return to the status quo.

Kennedy did touch on many topics saying that the “Justice Department has been rolling back civil rights by the day”. His speech covered different topics, such as immigration, racism, and gay rights. However, the speech could mean more coming from people who deal with these issues every day.

Since Trump’s inauguration there have been many politicians who have spoken out against the president who would have represented the party.

California Democrat Rep. Ted Lieu has been a constant critic of the president, and has spoken out against many of his policies.

As an immigrant from Taiwan, Lieu would have been a great choice to represent the Dreamers and give a rebuttal against Trump’s anti-immigration policies.

Another choice could have been Rep. Maxine Waters who has also feuded with the president over his behavior.

Considering Trump has repeatedly insulted women, people of color and immigrants, these more appealing alternatives would have been able to speak for people who have been most affected during his term.

Kennedy acknowledged that the last year has been hard for many, but stressed that he and the party “hear the voices of the Americans who are forgotten”.

He ended his speech by stating that “the strongest, richest nation in the world should not leave anyone behind.”

Unfortunately, this does not mean that the voices of the Americans “who are forgotten” are not given an opportunity to speak for themselves. Rather than find new voices, the Democratic party has decided to fall back on a classic look that no one asked for.

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