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Our view: Can Kennedy help Dems back to table?

The Democratic Party is in the minority nationally and in poor health regionally. Maybe Joe Kennedy III is the answer. Kennedy, the grandson of former U.S. Attorney General and presidential candidate Robert Kennedy, on Tuesday gave the Democrats'...

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The Democratic Party is in the minority nationally and in poor health regionally. Maybe Joe Kennedy III is the answer.

Kennedy, the grandson of former U.S. Attorney General and presidential candidate Robert Kennedy, on Tuesday gave the Democrats' response to President Trump's State of the Union address.

Was it predictable? Sure it was. But it also was inspiring to see a young, energetic politician passionately speaking to the nation.

Politically, Republicans have secured the fortress. That's alarming to us - not because we necessarily agree with overall Democratic vision, but because we believe the best possible political system comes when there are two strong parties debating policy, issues and proposals.

In the Dakotas, parity does not exist.

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North Dakota is led by a Republican governor and its Legislature is completely skewed to the right: 81 percent in the Senate and 86 percent in the House.

Same goes for South Dakota, which has a Republican governor, an 83 percent advantage in the Senate and an 86 percent advantage in the House.

Minnesota has a Democratic governor, but Republicans still have slight advantages in the Legislature.

Perhaps Kennedy can help inspire political ambition at the regional and local level. He has national identity (which he strengthened Tuesday), is energetic and has the financial clout to make it all come together.

He also has a family history that is undeniable. He's Robert Kennedy's grandson. He is the great-nephew of former Sen. Edward Kennedy and, as everyone must know by now, the great-nephew of assassinated President John Kennedy. He has Kennedy looks and the family's oratory skills.

As he spoke Tuesday, we couldn't help but notice the contrast between Kennedy and former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who as a 75-year-old came to Grand Forks and spoke at UND. As cameras rolled, he clumsily shushed Ed Schafer, then UND's president, when Schafer tried to welcome him. It was awkward and we imagine it didn't do much to inspire the young collegians in attendance.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is 77. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is 67. Former Vice President and Democratic poster boy Joe Biden is 75.

Kennedy, in his 30s and with that strong family background, could captivate the powerful millennial bloc if he ran.

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He doesn't drink. He graduated from Stanford and Harvard Law. He spoke Tuesday about fighting for the average American and even delivered portions of his speech in Spanish.

Of course, carrying that surname comes with baggage. The Kennedys of yore led lifestyles that certainly would be targeted by today's "me too" women's movement.

We have read that for now, Kennedy isn't talking about a presidential run. And if he did, it probably wouldn't happen until 2024 anyway.

This isn't an endorsement for Kennedy, the Democratic Party or anything he said Tuesday. But as mentioned, we are convinced two strong parties are best for government. Perhaps this young Kennedy can be the stepladder that helps the Democratic Party climb back to a place at the table.

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