— Opinion —
Why Long-Shot Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Presents A Challenge To The Insanity Of The Democratic Party
Last week Kennedy said he thought it was unfair for biological men to play sports with biological women, another verboten position among most Democrats.
When Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination earlier this year it was mostly met with giggles. But not long after those giggles turned to gasps as a shocking poll put the scion of America’s most famous political family at nearly 20%, with a struggling Joe Biden mired at 62% of his party’s own voters. While this could be a simple case of “anyone but Joe,” it’s also possible that some Democrat voters see in RFK Jr. a candidate who can move the party of Jefferson and Jackson away from progressive ideology and back to common sense.
In important ways Kennedy seems to be wildly out of step with Democrat Party orthodoxy. It’s worth taking a quick look at a few examples. Most obvious is his position against COVID vaccines which sets him directly at odds with the party of vax and boost. Last week Kennedy said he thought it was unfair for biological men to play sports with biological women, another verboten position among most Democrats. Going back a bit further we saw photos of RFK Jr. with James O’Keefe, the controversial firebrand conservative journalist who most progressives speak of with Joseph Goebbels in the same breath.
Add to all of this a rather dubious opinion regarding continued military aid to Ukraine in its war against Russia and you have something in Kennedy very different from a simple, “Biden is too old” candidate. And in some ways this is all very historically poignant given RFK Jr.’s family lineage. In 1960 his uncle John F. Kennedy would win the presidency as a moderate anti-communist president. 20 years later another Uncle, Senator Edward Kennedy, would run his own primary race against incumbent Jimmy Carter, badly damaging the one term president.
Over the next two cycles Democrats would nominate Carter’s Vice President Walter Mondale and then Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, both far to the left and both losers in their efforts. By 1992 the Democrats knew they needed a new direction, and they found it in moderate Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton. It is worth noting that one of the seminal images of Clinton is him as a child shaking hands with none other than President John F. Kennedy.
The irony here is that in 2020 Joe Biden was heralded as the moderate in a group of young progressive primary candidates who promised everything from free healthcare for illegal immigrants to defunding the police. Biden, we were given to understand, would mitigate the emerging far Left impulses of the post-Barack Obama Democrat Party. But that just never happened.
What we got instead was a Biden presidency that hews to almost every progressive penchant from student loan forgiveness, to the Green New Deal, to men in women’s sports, to the border and beyond. Meanwhile, actual moderate voices have been marginalized, Senator Kyrsten Sinema is now an Independent having ditched the Democrats and Senator Joe Manchin, while still loyal to his party, is constantly at sixes and sevens with it. Right now that leaves Robert Kennedy Jr. as quite possibly the person with the best chance to offer Democrats a new ideological direction.
Kennedy’s candidacy is still obviously a very, very long-shot. It seems likely, if not certain, that most Democrats will rally round Biden regardless of how unpopular and hapless he seems. But that doesn’t mean that Kennedy cannot move the needle and the Overton window in the party. This is the trend, more than the poll numbers themselves, that we should be keeping a close eye on. What issues will Kennedy and other rogue candidates such as Marianne Williamson bring to the fore, with or without official debates?
Joe Biden has often presented himself as a caretaker president, a member of the old guard who will hand over power eventually to the next generation. We have thus far simply assumed that this new iteration of the Democrat Party will look like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, but what if turns out to look more like Sinema, Manchin, or yes, even RFK Jr.?
One thing seems certain, there will be a competitive primary on the Democrat’s side, one in which RFK Jr. could very easily kneecap Biden in exactly the same way his storied Uncle Ted, the liberal lion, kneecapped Jimmy Carter. Everything in politics is obvious until it’s not. It was obvious that Donald Trump would not win the nomination in 2016, then it was obvious that he wouldn’t win the presidency or forever change the Republican Party, but those things all happened.
Now there is once again a member of the Kennedy clan hoping to guide the Democrats in a new direction. If history is any indication, then like his famous family members, Robert F Kennedy Jr. has a shot to do just that.
David Marcus is a West Virginia based columnist and author of “Charade: The Covid Lies That Crushed A Nation”
The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
This article has been updated for clarity.