Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) released a new campaign ad Thursday night, two weeks ahead of a primary election in which he'll face Rep. Joe Kennedy III. (Photo: The Markey Committee)

'Exact Right Message': Ed Markey's Must-Watch 2020 Campaign Ad Praised for Highlighting Broken Social Contract

"With all due respect, it's time to start asking what your country can do for you."

Julia Conley

Sen. Ed Markey won applause from progressives overnight and into Friday after releasing a new campaign ad touting himself as an outspoken Senate leader with working-class roots who is better-positioned to serve Massachusetts families than his Democratic primary challenger, Rep. Joe Kennedy III. 

The three-minute video begins with a rebuke of President Donald Trump and the Republican Party, who "looked for what they could take" from the American people when the coronavirus pandemic hit earlier this year. 

Repurposing the historic phrase made famous by President John F. Kennedy, the great-uncle of Markey's opponent, the senator tells viewers that while Americans "asked what we could do for our country" by following public health guidance and donating time and money to help struggling people, the Trump administration "abandoned America."

With Americans demanding a "new deal" including racial justice, Medicare for All, far-reaching climate action, and an economy that works for working people, Markey positions himself as "The Green New Dealmaker" in the ad, noting his co-sponsorship of the landmark climate legislation with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).   

After detailing his work in the Senate during the pandemic—securing $300 million for fishing industry disaster relief in the CARES Act and rejecting Trump's attempt to "cheap out" by demanding $600 per week in enhanced unemployment benefits—Markey tells voters that he is better suited than Kennedy to fight for Massachusetts residents and all Americans in the Senate, without mentioning his opponent by name.

"I don't need to get on the phone and talk to lobbyists to know what working people think," Markey says in the narration. "I get on the streets and I listen... We've got to make sure President Biden signs the Green New Deal. We can't wait."

Kennedy, who has served in the U.S. House since 2013, has been criticized by progressives for his past work for Michael O'Keefe, who The Appeal called "one of the most regressive district attorneys in Massachusetts"; for claiming Medicare for All would be too expensive before finally signing on to the bill in 2019; and for failing to prioritize bold climate action.  

"Congressman Kennedy is a progressive in name only," Markey said in a debate in June. "When he [got] a chance to lead on Medicare-for-All, on climate change, on the militarization of the streets of this country, he was not a progressive leader."

Despite Kennedy's youth at age 39, Markey, who is 74, was shown in recent polling to have the support of 71% of Massachusetts voters under the age of 30, while Kennedy has 21% of the vote. Markey is also leading Kennedy by 19 points among voters between the ages of 30 and 54. 

UMass-Amherst released poll results this month showing that Markey is leading Kennedy by 18 points overall, ahead of the Sept. 1 primary. 

"Right now, their relative ages are the only rationale left for Kennedy's campaign, and he's pretty plainly tested the limits of its political viability," wrote Charles Pierce at Esquire on Thursday. A Markey endorsement from Ocasio-Cortez, he added, "eliminated one powerful potential weapon in Kennedy's arsenal—that he could campaign as a Squad-adjacent insurgent. Absent a connection to that national political narrative, Kennedy's rationale for running was limited largely to a couple of lines on his birth certificate... For his part, Markey has campaigned with a vigor and enthusiasm that belies his age."

In the ad released Thursday, Markey offers a final comparison between his own vision of the country's future and the family legacy on which progressives say his opponent is running. 

"With all due respect, it's time to start asking what your country can do for you," Markey says.

On Thursday evening, Markey's ad won praise for succinctly explaining to voters how the social contract has been broken by Trump, the Republican Party, and the U.S. economic system, and detailing his efforts to negotiate a "new deal" for the American people.

"Can Ed Markey just take over marketing for the DNC?" asked environmental journalist Amy Westerveldt.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Wall Street-Funded Democrat PAC to Spend $1 Million in Bid to Unseat Tlaib: Report

"Imagine spending $1 million to oust Rashida Tlaib instead of organizing in Detroit to make sure Michigan goes blue," quipped one progressive group.

Brett Wilkins ·


Parents Demand Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty 'For the Sake of the Children'

"We cannot remain silent as the fossil fuel industry and world leaders rob our children of a livable future," parents from 32 nations wrote in an open letter.

Brett Wilkins ·


'We Can Do Better' Than Biden's Paltry Student Debt Relief Plan, Says AOC

The president's approach, said the New York Democrat, is "just enough to anger the people against it *and* the people who need forgiveness the most."

Julia Conley ·


Right-Wing Supreme Court Poised to Make US Gun Carnage Even Worse

The U.S. Supreme Court's right-wing majority could soon "obliterate even the mildest of gun regulations in service of its gun lobby masters."

Kenny Stancil ·


'Enough Is Enough!': Thousands Protest Outside NRA Convention in Texas

"I'm just tired of the NRA subordinating children's rights for gun rights," said one gun lobby opponent just three days after the school massacre in Uvalde.

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo