Harry Belafonte, an award winning entertainer and activist, has joined Kerry Kennedy (one of RFK’s daughters) to work with the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. They joined PoliticsNation to talk about those efforts, and also share their views on recent political developments including the battle over the fiscal cliff in Washington.
Kennedy says the president is “absolutely” in a strong position to get the richest Americans to pay a little more in this budget deal. “I think that was the endorsement of the election and I think he should fight hard,” she said. “Why should our financial troubles be put on the backs of those who are least able to afford it—the poor in this country? That’s who we need to have compassion for, and that’s whom we need to lift up, and the rich should pay more.”
Belafonte had even stronger words for Republicans pushing to cut entitlements like Medicaid and Medicare, when Americans clearly elected Obama because he planned to protect those programs. He called the opposition coming from the GOP “a lingering infestation of really corrupt people” who are “trying to dismantle the wishes of the people.”
Kennedy praised her uncle Ted Kennedy’s ability to “bring people together,” and create personal relationships that encouraged compromise, but she was doubtful whether even her uncle could have worked with some current members of Congress. “I think we need more of that in general. With the Tea Party, I think it just can’t be done because those are people who came to Washington saying ‘we want to destroy it,’ and that’s what they’re there for.”
Kennedy and Belafonte also discussed the work they’re doing through the Robert F. Kennedy Center, especially recent efforts to keep the Ugandan legislature from making homosexuality punishable by death. Belafonte pointed out the absurdity of Uganda’s parliamentary speaker’s claim that the bill could be a Christmas present to the people of Uganda. “The celebration of Christ, the generosity of giving love your brother, the family, for these people to be pushing this bill through that says homosexuality is punishable by death and they’ve already begun to destroy lives.”
To support their efforts, the RFK center is hosting a fundraiser auction, selling off such prizes as a dinner date with Harry Belafonte and trip to the NBC News and msnbc studios to see show tapings. Reverend Al Sharpton decided that whoever wins dinner with Mr. Belafonte will also get the opportunity to come by the PoliticsNation studios for the show’s taping that day. Be sure to bid on that one.