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“Broken Doors,” Episode 1
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Opinion Here’s how to preserve the Kennedy ideal in Trump’s America, from a Kennedy

Mark Shriver in 2012. (Patrick Semansky/Associated Press)

“I’m hopeful that we’re going to get in and have conversations.”

It’s Mark Shriver’s job, as president of Save the Children Action Network, to get into the political arena to fight on behalf of poor children and their families. It is a bipartisan endeavor that requires being able to work with the White House and Congress, no matter which party is in control. Three weeks after Donald Trump became President-elect Donald Trump, Shriver has yet to get through to the transition team to discuss his concerns.


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“It’s going to be tough when President Trump is talking about huge investments in infrastructure, when he is talking about tax breaks for businesses and individuals, and he’s talking about maintaining or increasing funding for fighting ISIS, for homeland security,” Shriver told me in the 17th episode of “Cape Up.” “The math doesn’t add up. So, usually it’s kids, it’s poor kids, it’s the vulnerable that lose funding. So, we’ve got a lot of work cut out for us. … We want to be at the table. But oftentimes … those issues get cut.”

[Michael Steele: Donald Trump is “the freest president we’ve had in a generation"]

Trump’s election has millions of Americans concerned that progressive goals will go nowhere. When I asked Shriver about that, he gave a much-needed pep talk paraphrasing the sentiments of his late father.

“This is a tough time, for a lot of people in this country. And the question is: Are we going to moan and wring our hands and get in the fetal position,” Shriver said, “or are we going to get in the arena, like Teddy Roosevelt said, and get bloodied and beaten, and get the dust and dirt kicked on us, and stay engaged?”

Watch: Democrats wonder: What do we do now?

Shriver’s father was the great Sargent Shriver, founder of the Peace Corps and leader of President Johnson’s “War on Poverty.” It was our conversation about his father and the lessons learned from his parents that elicited some of the most revealing responses from Shriver.

I don’t think they ever thought they were going to work, I think they thought they were having an opportunity to make a difference that day in some small way, and maybe that added up over time. So I think the joy that they exhibited, even when they were sad or sick, the fact that they were still joy-filled, which is different than being happy, I think they really thought that each day was an opportunity to, as corny as it sounds, spread a little hope, a little love.

Other revealing moments came when we talked about his recent book about Pope Francis — “Pilgrimage: My Search for the Real Pope Francis.”

[The thrilling humility of Pope Francis]

But you have to listen to the podcast to hear Shriver’s self-effacing response when I ask him what it is like to not only be the scion of two prominent families but to also look like his late uncle, President John F. Kennedy.

“Cape Up” is Jonathan’s weekly podcast talking to key figures behind the news and our culture. Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher or wherever else you listen to podcasts.