Gubernatorial Hopeful Chris Kennedy’s Unseemly Temper Tantrum

Written by Laurie Higgins

Perhaps you heard about the petulant, self-righteous, and downright rude behavior of Illinois gubernatorial hopeful Chris Kennedy directed at fellow gubernatorial candidate Jeanne Ives at a governor’s forum on Monday. When Jeanne Ives made the commonsense claim that a solution to gun violence is “fathers in the home,” she was greeted by not only boos from the audience but this withering and ignorant response from Kennedy:

Well, I wish I could agree with you. I didn’t have a father in my life. [applause] Somebody shot him….  when I hear such ignorance and stupidity aired out by someone who knows so little about so much, I don’t think there’s an appropriate place for them to be on a podium on a dais with other people who have given these issues thought and have the emotional capacity to be empathetic at the same time.

After this, Kennedy stormed off the dais, to the baffling applause of an equally ignorant crowd.

So, because Ives thinks fatherlessness is connected to violence, she’s ignorant, stupid, knows little about anything and shouldn’t be on a dais with others? Wow. In just a few words, Kennedy revealed that he is not only self-righteous, petulant, and rude but also foolish and presumptuous.

Why was Kennedy outraged by the suggestion that the absence of fathers contributes to gun violence? Does he assume that offering such a suggestion is an insult to families with no fathers? If so, how can the problems caused by fatherlessness—including gun violence—be discussed? When the subject of gun violence comes up—as it must in any gubernatorial campaign—are candidates not permitted to address the affect of fatherlessness on boys because Kennedy didn’t have a father in his life?

Does bringing up fatherlessness suggest lack of empathy for Kennedy, or does a refusal to bring up fatherlessness suggest a lack of empathy for the kids growing up amid harrowing gang violence that is shaped to a significant degree by fatherlessness?

Political scientist Charles Murray describes the effect of family structure on children in his book Coming Apart:

No matter what the outcome being examined… delinquency in adolescence, criminality as adults… school problems and dropping out, emotional health, or any other measure of how well or poorly children do in life—the family structure that produces the best outcome from children, on average, are two biological parents who remain married…. Never-married women produce the worst outcomes. All of these statements apply after controlling for the family’s socioeconomic status. I know of no other set of important findings that are as broadly accepted by social scientists who follow the technical literature, liberal as well as conservative, and yet are so resolutely ignored by network news programs, editorial writers for the major newspapers, and politicians of both major political parties.

Kennedy is one of those politicians. Ives is not.

After his melodramatic leave-taking, Kennedy, spoke to a reporter:

I lost my father to somebody with a gun. And for someone to say that the solution is simply to have a father…. How should I react? What should my family have done?

This response is utterly beside the point. Quite obviously, there was nothing Kennedy’s family could have done to prevent Bobby Kennedy’s assassination. His absence was non-volitional. What politicians could do is talk as often about the deleterious effects on children of being raised without fathers as they do about gun control.

I will offer some possible responses to Kennedy’s question “How should I react?”

He could have expressed his appreciation for Ives’ truth-telling since Sirhan Sirhan, who at age 19 assassinated Kennedy’s father, was raised by an abusive father who beat him and his brothers and then abandoned the family when Sirhan was 13.

Or Kennedy could have applauded Ives for saying what research has long shown: Absent (or abusive) fathers are a predominant cause of behavioral problems in children, especially boys. In Stanley S. Taylor’s 2013 research paper titled “Why American boys join street gangs,” Taylor demonstrated that the root cause of violence perpetrated by black men against the black community and others is family turmoil, including the absence of fathers or the presence of poor fathers.

In a study titled “Community Context, Social Integration Into Family, and Youth Violence” published in the Journal of Marriage and Family in 2005, researchers confirmed the relationship between intact families and violence:

The results… indicate that adolescents who live in neighborhoods with lower proportions of single-parent families and who report higher levels of family integration commit less violence. (emphasis added)

Or Kennedy could have backed up Ives’ claim by quoting former president Barack Obama who said this in 2008:

We know the statistics — that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and 20 times more likely to end up in prison.

Was Obama stupid? Did he lack empathy? Was it inappropriate of him to sit on a dais with other leaders?

In 1965, liberal Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan tried to warn against social policies that were destroying urban black families:

Since the widespread family disorganization among Negroes has resulted from the failure of the father to play the role in family life required by American society, the mitigation of this problem must await those changes in the Negro and American society which will enable the Negro father to play the role required of him.”

Moynihan’s warnings failed perhaps at least in part because winning votes has long been more important to Democrats than the actual lives and welfare of children of color. How else to explain why Obama—who sent his own daughters to the most prestigious and expensive private schools in the country—refused to support school vouchers that would have enabled less privileged families of color to escape blighted schools run by Democrats?

When Jeanne Ives courageously made the inarguable claim that fathers play a critical role in keeping their sons from violence, “progressives” booed. When Kennedy said that he had been raised without a father, the audience applauded. And that demonstrates why the lives of children in urban areas will not improve under the leadership of “progressives” who have dug the graves of countless children through disastrous, family-destroying policies and remain committed to shoveling dirt onto their broken bodies.

More ACTION:  Volunteer to help the campaign. Talk to family members, friends, and neighbors about Rep. Ives and the importance of her election. And donate to her campaign HERE. Even small donations help enormously.

Listen to this article read by Laurie: 

IFA depends on the support of Christians like you. Donate now

-and, please-