Robert F. Kennedy, Jr’s keynote address to the Solar Power International conference in Anaheim, CA, has been described in the media as a “barn-barner” (the New York Times), “rousing” (Greentech Media) and “inspiring” (New Energy News).
It certainly was all that. As someone who has followed not just Robert, Jr., but also the career of his late father, Senator RFK, Sr., the best way I can describe the speech is, “consistent.”
Since the 1960s, the two Kennedy’s have spoken to deep-rooted traditional American values of democracy, equality and activism — no matter what the ostensible subject matter was.
Moments before he was assassinated in 1968, Robert Kennedy, Sr. was inspiring his supporters with a renewed call to activism. It’s an anachronism now tinged with condescension to speak of “the little guy,” but both Kennedys — and the late Senator Ted Kennedy as well — spent their lives working for this figure popularized during the last great American economic upheaval.
Listen to Kennedy’s Wednesday speech; the message is all “Bobby,” but on a topic virtually unknown to him during his short life.
Bobby had been called “ruthless,” and he could be that. In this era, however, with so much on the line, and with energy and climate change the looming issues of the day, it’s good to have a strong-willed and tough champion fighting in our corner.
It’s how you win. And this is a battle we can’t afford to lose.
Osha Gray Davidson is a contributing blogger at Mother Jones and publisher of The Phoenix Sun, an online news service reporting on solar energy. He tweets @thephoenixsun.