JFK 2022: The Left, the Right, and JFK
There's a notable exception to America's political polarization.
At the close of 2022 American politics are polarized like few times in American history. The country’s divisions are as profound as the 1960s when the civil rights and antiwar movements challenged the Pentagon war machine and Jim Crow segregation. Some historians say the split is as severe as the 1850s when the anti-slavery north resisted the expansion of the slave-holding south until civil war came.
But on one symbolically potent issue—the assassination of JFK—the polarization is muted. As a recent survey poll conducted by Bendixen & Amandi International, a Miami-based polling firm, found a bare majority of Americans, 50 percent, believe more than one person was involved in the murder of President Kennedy, while a significant minority—38 percent—believe the official theory of a lone gunman. While Democrats are evenly split on the conspiracy question, a majority of Republicans and independents believe the 35th president was killed his enemies. I will present the findings of the Bendixen Amandi poll in detail in two posts tomorrow, December 31.
Here I want to note how ideology shapes media coverage of the JFK story today. The conservative majority that sees JFK as a victim of a conspiracy seems motivated by hostility to CIA and FBI, a new development on the American right. The divided Democrats who see JFK as the victim of a lone gunman are motivated, at least in part by sympathy for the CIA and FBI, which are now seen as a bulwark against authoritarianism, a new development on the American left.