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Running Head: ROBERT KENNEDY
Robert Kennedy: Analysis
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Politics is a very dangerous sphere of the human society. In the course of history,
many prominent individuals involved in politics were assassinated because of political
enemies born of political reasons (Gibson, 2000, p. 139), as a result of their personal, as well
as political convictions and actions, from the likes of Julius Caesar to the iconic John
Fitzgerald Kennedy, Robert Kennedy’s brother. Robert Kennedy is no different. Just like his
brother and those who came before him, Robert Kennedy would live and die inside the
political arena. What Robert Kennedy believed in, what he was passionate about he made
sure he expressed openly to the people through his actions. He hardly held anything back,
largely because of the fact that Robert Kennedy is a prominent politician and as a politician
he was skilled, knowledgeable and capable. He came from the very prominent line of high
pedigree United States politician family – The Kennedys. Prior to his assassination, Robert
Kennedy was a very powerful name in the primaries and was one of the hottest names to run
for the US presidency especially with the falling popularity of then US President Johnson. He
led a life with very powerful convictions regarding politics. The intensity by which Robert
Kennedy has upheld and executed his political and personal convictions translated well in his
actions, and without a doubt, his political actions was not universally popular. Inside US and
international politics, it is easy to assume that Robert Kennedy has made many enemies,
although many of them did not make this overtly known. Politics was the life of Robert
Kennedy. Sadly, it would be his end after he was shot in a hotel kitchen as he was on the way
out. At the aftermath of his assassination, many analysts and historians looked not at personal
motives for the killing of Robert Kennedy, but the political reasons why Robert Kennedy was
assassinated, coming to the conclusion that Robert Kennedy’s personal and political
ideologies, which lead to his political position and action, can be considered as important
factors that have contributed to his assassination.
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The paper will discuss and analyze the political position of Robert Kennedy, how it
could have contributed to his death and the reasons why such was the belief of many, and
more importantly, the perceived effects of the assassination as seen in the psychological
perspective of analyzing the situation in lieu of the idea regarding the reaction of the people
after the assassination of a prominent US leader like Robert Kennedy.
Kennedy’s political position
One of the most dangerous political moves that Robert Kennedy made was his head-
on battle versus the dreaded Mafia and organized crime in general, starting the battle before
and during his stint as the Attorney General of the US. While the investigations undertaken
after his assassination did not reveal any connection with Mafia and the organized crime
regarding the role of these groups in his death, his battle versus organized crime nonetheless
created reasons to believe that he was in potential danger even before he was assassinated.
Besides his battle with organized crime, Robert Kennedy's political beliefs and actions also
led him to fighting Jimmy Hoffa of the Teamsters Union in the belief that Hoffa was a
corrupt individual. Hoffa made sure that Robert Kennedy knows that he will fight back
against his attack on him.
There were also other probable sources of threat - for example, J. Edgar Hoover was
concerned that Robert Kennedy's alliance with some civil rights leaders was the reason that
validates the belief that Kennedy was interacting with communist leaders. "A Robert F.
Kennedy presidency would have severely threatened all these individuals and groups" and
that this would have meant life sentence for Hoffa, deportation of Carlos Marcello who is an
organized crime boss, and even the end of the career of Hoover (Melanson, 2004, p. 4). Such
was the extent of the threats of Kennedy and the reasons that can explain who killed him and
why that it was as if world merely waited who will have enough guts and who will have the
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opportunity to successfully execute the assassination without losing as much as a result of the
action. Organized crime held their cards close to them, and so did Hoffa and the FBI leader. It
turn out that the only person with nothing to lose and everything to gain in the action is
Sirhan, but Kennedy, in hindsight and in analysis seem to be unfazed by the threat to his life
because of his belief in the duty of the politician and how he believed that good intentions
will be victorious in the end despite threats to his own personal life.
The closest that investigators could come up with to relate the assassination of Robert
Kennedy to political reasons was the profiling of his assassin, who is known as Sirhan Sirhan,
the assassination a handiwork of an individual and not someone who is backed by a group,
like how the JFK assassination was perceived by some analysts (Hadjor, 1995, p. 105).
Sirhan killed Robert Kennedy by shooting him in close range. According to investigations
that followed the motive of Sirhan's actions towards Robert Kennedy, it was because Sirhan
felt that Kennedy betrayed Palestinian interests when he expressed his political alliance with
Israel, Palestine's enemy, during the Six Day War that happened in June of 1967. This is the
common problem of politicians, especially high profile politicians who are deeply loved by
the public. While there are many people who loved him, Kennedy did not have any way of
knowing who he will offend in the personal level with his actions (Hadjor, 1995, p. 105).
It was not strongly proven if Sirhan was a terrorist or a hired assassin and if the cause
of assassination was a plan of a bigger organization geared at stopping Kennedy and what he
might do if and when he wins in the election, stressing the fact that the action of Sirhan was a
result of personal vendetta on the part of the assassin. This is the perfect example of how a
political position of an individual can lead to offending an individual who maybe a fanatic
enough to risk his or her own life just to kill a politician whom he or she thinks deserves to
die because of his or her actions, and taking the responsibility of handing death on his own
hands like what Sirhan did. Politicians cannot escape this predicament since they cannot
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please every one individual. Sooner or later, there will be individuals who will go against a
politician because of his political beliefs and action. In the case of Kennedy, the assassination
was not from a high profile group that it was not intercepted, unlike if it was something that
was hatched by popular enemy of the Kennedy's.
The implications of an American leader being assassinated
The effects and implications of the Robert Kennedy assassination can be viewed using
the psychological perspective in how the assassination of an American leader can affect the
people. The implications can be viewed using the psychological perspective. Some of the
effects are in the psychological sphere of the individuals inside the society who were affected
by the event. It can allow the investigator or analyst to see the effects based on how the
society was affected and how the society reacted to a happening with such gravity as the
Robert Kennedy assassination. It can allow the analysis and exploration of the psychological
frame of mind of the people and the society as a reaction to what happened, and how it
affected the people in the psychological level is important considering the significance of the
American leader in the social life of the people and the impact that the death would have on
each individual and to the people collectively. How the people react to social events and how
this affects the psychological state of the people has been an aspect of interest among
professionals, even as far back as JFK's time (Barkun, 1986, p. 206), and his assassination. At
the time of his brother's assassination, professionals also delved into exploring how this
created a psychological ripple among the people and in the society.
A psychological perspective - Psychologically, the effect of the assassination of an
American leader and politician is varied. There are those who felt that the assassination left
them, in a particular way, orphaned. Another psychological effect is the creation of fear
among people - the assassination of a leader as well guarded and as high profile as Robert
Kennedy can create the feeling of vulnerability. People will feel that the mood of the society
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is leaning towards being indefensible against the actions of criminals and terrorists and those
who seek to destabilize local and national politics, and are being successful in doing so. The
psychological perspective in the analysis of the implications of the assassination of an
American leader looks at how people felt, how the behavior, attitude and perspective of the
people was changed as a result of the event, what new mind sets and perspectives were
created and what old perspectives were changed and altered as a result of the psychological
effect of the event on the people.
Anxiety was a significant psychological effect viewed in the psychological analysis of
the implication of the assassination of the American leader. The anxiety was born out of
many reasons. First, the people became anxious because they do not know what will happen
next: what will happen to the fight versus organized crime? What will happen to the fight for
civil rights? What will happen to the plans of Kennedy (will it push through, and if yes who
will spearhead the continuation of Robert Kennedy's actions?)? What will happen to the
country, especially among those who believe strongly in the platforms of Kennedy?
The feeling of anxiety was prevalent. The people, for a time, were not sure what
happens next, where the country will go from here. Although this is not the first time that a
Kennedy was assassinated (since the JFK assassination preceded Robert Kennedy's
assassination), still, the people suffered from anxiety. They are unsure what will happen next.
After the JFK assassination, many people were not expecting that another Kennedy would be
assassinated. Because it was unexpected, the people are not prepared, and the state of
emotional unpreparedness results to anxiety. The feeling of anxiety was one of the most
prevalent psychological implication regarding the assassination of the American leader
because being left leaderless unexpectedly creates the anxiety regarding being unprepared.
There are no clear successor to Robert Kennedy who is as popular as him and as charismatic,
as qualified and as capable as him.
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Besides the surfacing of strong emotions as a result of the assassination of the
American leader reflected in the psychological analysis of the situation, there are also other
things that come into play and is experienced as a result of the assassination of an American
leader like what happened to Robert Kennedy and to the American leader when Robert
Kennedy was assassinated. For one, institutions will come forward in the effort to contribute
to the creation of a state of balance or return to normalcy or to pacify and stabilize the society
after it is wracked by a very powerful event, like the assassination of Robert Kennedy.
The people will rely on how social institutions will react to the situation in the hope of
gaining any semblance of hope or return to normalcy. The reaction of social institutions after
a life altering event strengthens the role of the said social institutions and reinforces the
concept that these social institutions have political roles and political commitments that they
have to preserve especially in times like the assassination of a significant American leader.
"Perhaps the most important aspect of the reaction to the assassination is the way it illustrates
the complex admixture of the rational institutions of politics with the more traditional,
religious and indeed somewhat magical aspects of political commitment (Rivers, Greenberg,
1977, p. 359)."
Robert Kennedy is a very high profile politician. Many people believed in him, while
at the same time, many people are also against him and want him dead. These are all because
of his political views and his political beliefs and his political actions. His life, as was his
death, was political in nature. Even the personal reason of the assassin that killed him was
political as well. His loss was mourned by many people. There are many different kinds of
ways in which the assassination of Robert Kennedy has affected the American people. People
felt anxious, scared, and unsure and at some point without direction when he was gone.
Although it was temporary, it reflects the importance of the man who passed away.
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Barkun, M. (1986). Disaster and the millennium. New York: Syracuse University Press.
Gibson, D. (2000). The Kennedy assassination cover-up. New York: Nova Publishers.
Hadjor, K. B. (1995). Another America: the politics of race and blame. Marrickville: South
Melanson, P. H. (2004). The Robert F. Kennedy Assassination: New Revelations on the
Conspiracy and Cover-Up, 1968-1991. New York: SP Books.
Rivers, William L., Greenberg, B. (1977). Kennedy Assassination and the American Public:
Social Communication in Crisis. California: Stanford University Press.