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Sequestration nation and RFK

With the sequester now beginning, I find myself thinking about Robert F. Kennedy — and 46 years ago when I was an intern in his Senate office.

1967 was a difficult time for the nation. America was deeply split over civil rights and the Vietnam War. Many of our cities were burning. The war was escalating.

But RFK was upbeat. He was also busy and intense — drafting legislation, lining up votes, speaking to the poor, inspiring the young. I was awed by his energy and optimism, and his overriding passion for social justice and the public good. (Within a few months he’d declare his intention to run for president. Within a year he’d be dead.)

The nation is once again polarized, but I don’t hear our politicians talking about social justice or the public good. They’re talking instead about the budget deficit and sequestration.

At bottom, though, the issue is still social justice.

The austerity economics on which we’ve embarked is a cruel hoax — cruel because it hurts those who are already hurt the most; a hoax because it doesn’t work.

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