What If Robert F. Kennedy Had Lived? Unfulfilled Potential of a Visionary Leader

What If Robert F. Kennedy Had Lived? | America's Lost President | Timeline


The assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, marked a turning point in American history. The tragic event not only cut short the life of a beloved president but also left a profound impact on his family, including his younger brother, Robert F. Kennedy. RFK, as he was often referred to, was an influential figure in his own right, serving as Attorney General during JFK’s presidency and later embarking on a political career of his own.

However, on June 5, 1968, just months after declaring his candidacy for the presidency, Robert F. Kennedy was also assassinated, leaving behind a legacy of unfulfilled potential. This article delves into the intriguing ‘what-if’ scenario of Robert F. Kennedy’s survival, exploring his life, political ambitions, and the potential impact he could have had on American history.

Early Life and the Kennedy Family

Robert Francis Kennedy was born on November 20, 1925, in Brookline, Massachusetts, into a family deeply rooted in politics and public service. As the seventh child of Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. and Rose Kennedy, Robert grew up surrounded by a competitive and ambitious atmosphere. He idolized his older brother John and developed a strong sense of loyalty to his family and their shared ideals.

The Kennedy household fostered a culture of intellectual discourse and civic engagement, shaping young Robert’s values and instilling in him a deep sense of duty to serve the greater good. Robert’s upbringing in a politically active family laid the foundation for his own career in public service. His deep commitment to social justice and advocacy for the marginalized drove him to become a powerful voice for change, and his untimely death left a void in American politics that is still felt today.

Political Journey and Attorney General Years

After serving in the Navy during World War II, Robert F. Kennedy attended Harvard Law School and later joined the Department of Justice as a prosecutor. His exceptional legal skills and unwavering dedication to justice caught the attention of his brother John, who appointed him as the United States Attorney General in 1961.

As Attorney General, RFK played a pivotal role in advancing civil rights, fighting organized crime, and tackling social injustices. He fiercely advocated for desegregation, launched initiatives to combat poverty, and initiated investigations into corrupt labor unions. His relentless pursuit of justice and commitment to equality earned him both admiration and criticism, solidifying his reputation as a formidable force in American politics.

Political Ambitions and the 1968 Presidential Campaign

In the wake of his brother’s assassination, Robert F. Kennedy took time to grieve and reflect on his own political aspirations. In 1964, he successfully ran for the U.S. Senate from New York, where he quickly gained popularity and emerged as a prominent voice for social justice and progressive change.

Buoyed by public support and motivated by a deep-seated desire to carry on his brother’s legacy, RFK announced his candidacy for the presidency on March 16, 1968. His campaign ignited a sense of hope and idealism among a divided nation, capturing the hearts and minds of a new generation.

Potential Impact and Unanswered Questions

If Robert F. Kennedy had lived and successfully secured the presidency, his impact on American history could have been transformative. RFK’s policy agenda focused on addressing poverty, racial inequality, and the turmoil of the Vietnam War. He sought to bridge the divisions in society, promoting social justice and equality for all.

One of the central questions surrounding RFK’s hypothetical presidency is how he would have navigated the complex challenges of the time. His ability to inspire and mobilize the public was evident throughout his campaign, but translating that enthusiasm into effective governance would have required formidable political skill and leadership.

RFK’s presidency could have shaped the trajectory of the civil rights movement, potentially accelerating progress in achieving racial equality. His commitment to social justice and economic empowerment for marginalized communities could have brought about tangible changes in the lives of countless Americans.

Additionally, Robert F. Kennedy’s opposition to the Vietnam War could have influenced the course of U.S. foreign policy. His vocal criticism of the conflict and his determination to seek diplomatic solutions might have expedited the end of the war and saved countless lives.

Legacy and Continuing Influence

Despite his untimely death, Robert F. Kennedy’s impact on American society and politics remains profound. His message of hope, compassion, and social justice continues to resonate with people around the world. RFK’s commitment to equality and his emphasis on addressing the root causes of social inequality have inspired subsequent generations of activists and political leaders.

Finally, the ‘what-if’ scenario of Robert F. Kennedy’s survival will forever be a subject of speculation and contemplation. While we can only imagine the potential outcomes, his life and tragic death serve as a reminder of the fragility of democracy and the enduring influence of visionary leaders.


Robert F. Kennedy’s political career was marked by a deep sense of purpose and an unwavering commitment to justice. The ‘what-if’ scenario of his survival poses fascinating questions about the impact he could have had as president. RFK’s vision for a more just and compassionate society continues to inspire and guide the pursuit of a better future. While we will never know the full extent of his potential presidency, his legacy endures as a testament to the enduring power of leadership, compassion, and the belief in a more equitable world.

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