edited by Allison Mead

While enduring two near-fatal spine operations in 1954, a young senator from Massachusetts named John F. Kennedy began writing his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “Profiles in Courage”, which describes the selfless acts of courage and integrity of eight United States senators who chose an independent and lonely course as they championed extremely unpopular views while in political office.  In direct opposition to their own political parties and the wishes of their own constituents, these rare statesmen placed their political futures and often their safety and lives at great risk, solely because they chose to do the right thing for the country they valued over their own political careers and reputations.

After the assassination of President Kennedy, an extraordinarily popular Memorial Edition of Profiles in Courage was published, and President Kennedy’s grieving brother was asked to write the Foreword. Robert F. Kennedy wrote about his deceased brother, “Courage is the virtue that President Kennedy most admired” and added, “If there is a lesson from the lives of the men John Kennedy depicts in this book, if there is a lesson from his life and from his death, it is that in this World of ours none of us can afford to be lookers-on, the critics standing on the sidelines.” RFK added about his brother, “It was his conviction that a democracy with this effort by its people must and can face its problems, that it must show patience, restraint, compassion, as well as wisdom and strength and courage, in the struggle for solutions which are very rarely easy to find.”

In preparing for Election Day that is scheduled for November 5, 2024, we must ask ourselves, “Which of the current presidential candidates demonstrates that he has learned the lessons that were taught by JFK in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, and by RFK in the corresponding Foreword? Which candidate demonstrates personal courage, political courage, activism, and integrity?

Independent candidate RFK Jr. has faced great pressure by “the critics standing on the sideline.” Censored by social media such as YouTube and Meta and de-platformed during the Covid Pandemic by Instagram, RFK Jr. responds to attacks by the Censorship Industrial Complex with a reasoned and vigorous defense of First Amendment Free Speech in the digital public square.

Although once named one of Time Magazine’s “Heroes for the Planet,” RFK Jr. is vilified with epithets and ad hominem attacks by the echo chamber of the mainstream media. Attached to him are labels such as “Conspiracy Theorist,” “Anti-Vaxxer,” “Spreader of Disinformation,” etc. RFK Jr.  responds by writing carefully researched best-selling books in which he presents scientific evidence with hundreds of references.  Five recent titles of his are: The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health; The Wuhan CoverUp and the Terrifying Bioweapons Arms Race; Climate in Crisis: Who’s Causing It, Who’s Fighting It, and How We Can Reverse It Before It’s Too Late; VaxUnvax: Let the Science Speak; A Letter to Liberals, Censorship and COVID: An Attack on Science and American Ideals.

RFK Jr. has even faced attacks by some members of his own family who denounce and reject him. (“Bobby might share the same name as our father, but he does not share the same values, vision, or judgment… We denounce his candidacy and believe it to be perilous for our country.”) With extraordinary dignity and decency, RFK Jr. has responded, “I love my family. Every family has disputes” and “My whole family including myself have long personal relationships with President Biden … and many of them just plain disagree with me on issues like censorship and war and public health. They are entitled to their beliefs…and I love them back.”

Today’s RFK has shown incredible political courage by leaving the party of his father, uncles, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers and running as an independent candidate for president, without a major party affiliation with their corporate sponsorship-filled coffers. He explains,“It was very painful for me. I was raised in the Democratic Party, my father, my uncles were the leaders of the party. You know, our relationship with the Democratic Party goes back generations… Leaving the party of my family is very, very difficult for me, but… I didn’t feel that I had a choice.”

Great personal courage is also evident in the character of RFK Jr. He continues to campaign nonstop despite threats to his safety and the safety of his family, without the protection of the Secret Service that has been given to every other similarly polling candidate since his father was assassinated in 1968. KENNEDY24 (RFK Jr.’s campaign) finances the candidate’s protection at the cost of $1 million dollars per month  despite Secret Service protection having been offered to a much lower polling candidate, Nikki Haley.

RFK Jr. has shown great integrity by steering an independent course in his attempt to heal a divided nation by focusing on the existential issues of our day. He routinely speaks out and educates Americans about the crushing national debt of $34 Trillion that has practically doubled under the last two presidents fueling the crippling inflation, the ever-worsening border crisis that is financing the Mexican drug cartels, the stranglehold of the Military Industrial Complex with its forever wars including the current proxy war in the Ukraine, the chronic disease epidemic that is injuring our children and sapping our strength and resources, the poisoning of our environment, and the Censorship Industrial Complex that is destroying our First Amendment Right of Free Speech in the digital public square. 

Through his words and actions RFK Jr. continues to “show patience, restraint, compassion, as well as wisdom and strength and courage, in the struggle for solutions which are very rarely easy to find” in the same way that his father RFK described JFK. RFK Jr. exemplifies the inspirational words of JFK: “Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans…  unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed.” RFK Jr. has taken up the mantle and assumed the role of leadership from both his father and uncle while exemplifying the “grace under fire,” political courage, personal courage, and integrity that JFK so greatly admired and wrote about in his timeless classic.

Richard Margolis MD is a Board-Certified Child & Adolescent and General Psychiatrist who is a volunteer for the Kennedy 24 campaign.

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