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6 Dec, 2023 21:15

Can this one man dethrone both major US parties?

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s policies are a mishmash of Trump’s and Biden’s, minus a lot of the baggage
Can this one man dethrone both major US parties?

When Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced his independent bid for the US presidency, it sent shockwaves through the Beltway and beyond. Will the scion of the Kennedy clan merely play spoiler, or does the political upstart carry the clout to win the White House?

If there is one thing the Democrats and Republicans despise more than anything, it’s when a meddling independent or third-party candidate joins the political fray, threatening to disrupt the two-party duopoly that has ruled with an iron fist over Washington, DC since 1853 (Millard Fillmore was elected president under the Whig Party banner in 1850; after that, the Oval Office has been owned by either a Democrat or Republican). That’s what Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has done after bidding farewell to the Democratic Party and declaring his run as an independent.

Kennedy, 69, now finds himself walking a treacherous tightrope over the snake pit known as the US political system to enamor himself with members of both parties on several hot-button issues. To this end, the son of the late Robert F. Kennedy – the US senator who was assassinated on June 5, 1968 while also making a presidential run – has borrowed heavily from the political playbooks of both Joe Biden and Donald Trump. The outcome is a mishmash of beliefs from both ideological camps, a risky move that has some merit.

Consider, for example, Kennedy’s position on Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine. While the Biden administration has taken a wrecking ball to the US economy, dumping hundreds of millions into Kiev’s war coffers and stoking inflation, Kennedy has pointed to the US and NATO’s failure to heed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s past warnings on Western military expansion as the main cause.

“In 2019, actor and comedian Volodymyr Zelensky ran as the peace candidate, winning the Ukrainian presidency with 70% of the vote,” Kennedy observed on X (formerly Twitter). “As Benjamin Abelow wrote in his brilliant book, ‘How the West Brought War to Ukraine’, Zelensky almost certainly could have avoided the 2022 war with Russia simply by uttering five words – ‘I will not join NATO.’”

Meanwhile, Trump, who has promised to resolve the Ukraine crisis in 24 hours if elected president, has taken a similar position with regards to who should accept the blame for Europe’s deadliest military conflagration since World War II.

“They actually taunted him, if you really look at it, our country and our so-called leadership taunted Putin,” Trump commented with trademark aplomb in October 2022. “I would listen, I would say, you know, they’re almost forcing him to go in with what they’re saying. The rhetoric was so dumb.”

Kennedy and Trump share similar positions on other issues as well, like the need for a viable border with Mexico and stronger relations with Israel. On the latter, Biden has paid a price for his pro-Israel stance as a whopping 50% of Democratic voters believe that West Jerusalem and Hamas are equally to blame for the current hostilities and almost as many disapprove of Biden’s response to the war.

Much of this intra-party divide is a direct by-product of the ‘cultural Marxism’ that has invaded US academia, which disproportionately sees the Palestinian people as the victim. This view is passionately supported by the radical wing of the Democratic Party known as ‘The Squad’, comprised of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, and others.

At the same time, Kennedy has endeared himself to many Republican voters over one of the most divisive issues in recent memory, the question of vaccines – specifically, mandatory vaccination for the Covid-19 virus. As Trump endlessly talked up his ‘warp speed’ serum, and got booed by his base in the process, Kennedy was taking a radically different approach, attacking not just the questionable safety of the product but its primary promoters, Anthony Fauci and Bill Gates.

At the peak of the epidemic, Kennedy put out a book entitled, ‘The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health.’The fact that this work went on to sell more than a million copies spoke volumes about the level of public skepticism and angst at the time, as millions of Americans were struggling for answers that could have meant the difference between life and death – death from either the epidemic or a negative reaction to the vaccine.

While Kennedy has managed to attract some positive reviews for his labors, the bulk of the establishment media has hung him out to dry as a “purveyor of conspiracy theories.” It must be said that some of Kennedy’s allegations – for example, that Covid-19 may have been genetically manipulated to spare populations of Jewish and Chinese people – do seem to cross the threshold of plausibility.

“Covid-19. There is an argument that it is ethnically targeted. Covid-19 attacks certain races disproportionately,” Kennedy said in remarks during a private event. “Covid-19 is targeted to attack Caucasians and black people. The people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese.”

While such outlandish views may endear Kennedy to the far-right, lunatic-fringe of Trump supporters, the same cannot be said for some of Kennedy’s other questionable pet projects, primarily climate change. Next only to arguments in favor of gun control, here is an issue that is greeted with absolute revulsion from conservative voters. Yet not only has he promoted the view that greenhouse gases from man-made activities are causing the planet to heat up, he has also gone on record as saying climate change deniers should be prosecuted.

Back in 2014, when asked about politicians who ‘deny the science’ of climate change, Kennedy said: “They’re selling out to public trusts... they are contemptible human beings, and that, you know, I wish that there were a law you could punish them under.” That’s a view that many Democrats and Republicans alike will find dangerous.

Finally, on the one issue that arguably most separates the Democrats and the Republicans, that of gun control, Kennedy has pleaded in favor of an armed republic.

“I do not believe that there is, within that Second Amendment, that there’s anything we can meaningfully do to reduce the trade in the ownership of guns,” Kennedy said during a townhall in June, “and I’m not going to take people’s guns away.”

So, what should voters make of all this? The first takeaway is that Robert F Kennedy Jr, much like his famous family members RFK and JFK who preceded him, is a fiercely courageous individual who will not sacrifice his personal convictions just to gain easy political points. That much is clear given his views on Covid-19 vaccines and the Ukraine crisis.

Second, Kennedy is obviously aware that both Joe Biden and Donald Trump will be entering the presidential race with a lot of baggage, and that’s apparent from recent surveys. In an October Reuters/Ipsos poll, Biden and Trump each had the support of 35% of respondents, with 11% saying they would vote for some other candidate, 9% saying they would not vote, and 9% saying they did not know who they would vote for.

Many Democrats are disenchanted with Biden largely because of a sputtering economy, while Trump supporters are growing weary of the scandals following their favorite Orange Man. While a no-name independent candidate would having little chance of pulling off a presidential win against such contenders, Kennedy will enter the fray bearing his famous family’s namesake, and that alone could mean a chance – albeit a slight one – of another Kennedy entering the White House in 2024.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.