RFK–A ‘What If’

50 years ago Bobby Kennedy was assassinated on the campaign trail in LA……some say if that had not occurred he would have won the Democratic nomination and ultimately the presidency.

Recently I wrote that his son, RFK, Jr has said that he believes there were 2 shooters maybe more when his father was shot….


But let’s think about the 1968 election…..let’s look at history as if RFK had won the election….what would that mean to the US?

It is one of history’s great “what ifs.” What if Robert Kennedy had not been assassinated 40 years ago and gone on to become president of the United States? It’s safe to say that his presidency would have followed a different course from that of Richard Nixon. And it may just be that American politics would not be endlessly refighting the 1960s. Kennedy was a less polarizing figure than Nixon, who exploited the divisions that have now hardened into Red States and Blue States. But Kennedy himself was a complex and mercurial figure, so all we can really do is speculate. It’s an intriguing guessing game—if one does not get too dreamy about the mythology of RFK.

One reality check to start: it is far from a sure bet that RFK would have been nominated, and if nominated, elected. Kennedy was winning most of the primaries at the time of his death in June 1968, but under the old rules the bosses still controlled the Democratic Party. Hubert Humphrey, LBJ’s vice president and Kennedy’s real rival for the nomination (not Sen. Eugene McCarthy, the poet-politician who was fading in the stretch), was the favorite of the bosses. Kennedy was regarded as too “hot” and too radical by the big city and Big Labor chieftains. RFK was counting on Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley to turn the tide, but Daley was not a sure bet (despite some romantic and unconfirmed reporting that Daley promised his support in a phone call to Bobby just before Kennedy was killed). And RFK would have faced a formidable foe in Richard Nixon in November. The New Nixon was an expert at divide and conquer, and he was building a Silent Majority of white middle-class Americans fearful of rioting blacks and hippie college radicals.


50 years ago the US was set for a change and those shots in LA destroyed the chances of a new way forward……robbed the country of a brilliant leader


2 thoughts on “RFK–A ‘What If’

  1. That’s a good ‘what if’, chuq. That said, I had little time for the Kennedy ‘dynasty’, and I am not sure any of them would have kept their promises, had they lived. Great for conspiracy theorists like me though!
    Best wishes, Pete.

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