In the weeks leading up to Labor Day 2023, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. set out his economic plan to “restore the middle class” drawing on ideas from across the political spectrum and his supporters in the Garden State carried banners to celebrate the collective power of unionized workers at the 64th Annual South Plainfield Labor Day parade.
Robert Schilare organized the event with Jamel C. Holley, William Paris, Gina Genovese, and others, who marched in South Plainfield at one of New Jersey’s biggest Labor Day parades as thousands of Kennedy supporters did at similar cavalcades across the nation.
Whether it is called “working class capitalism” or “populist capitalism”, Kennedy’s plan challenges the mainstream Democratic narrative, in a way that no other campaign is doing.
The environmental lawyer and political legacy said he is running to unite the country and Kennedy’s ideas are rooted in America’s traditional system of private enterprise.
He rejects various forms of collectivism as well as corporatism. He repeatedly attacks what he sees as collaborations between big government and big corporations to stifle market competition. What is needed is a market-based system, but one that differs in several important ways from the current system.
At its center, Kennedy’s capitalism is a system that enables blue-collar, service and care workers operating outside of the knowledge economy to achieve middle-class lifestyles through their work.
“I grew up during the heyday of American economic prosperity. It was in the 1950s and 1960s that the archetype of the American Dream was born. It was not something available only to a lucky few; it was within the reach of most Americans,” said Kennedy. “At that time, a single wage-earner with a high school education could own a home, raise a family, have vacations and save for retirement. That is how it should be. If you work hard, you should have a decent life.”
Kennedy has been talking about the decline in wages for working class jobs since the late 1970s. He believes that these workers are essential to the economy and that they should not be one paycheck away from economic despair.
Kennedy’s job policies include reshoring jobs, unionization, minimum wage hikes, reigning in healthcare costs, immigration controls, and rebuilding the small business economy. He believes that these policies will help to create a strong middle class and a more stable democracy.
Kennedy’s economic populism is different from the traditional populism on both the left and right. He focuses on class, not race or gender, and he believes that jobs are the key to a strong middle class.
Kennedy’s economic ideas show he is not afraid to challenge the Democratic leadership and accepted policies, and he would be willing to work with all sides to find solutions.