RFK Jr. Was a Crackpot Who Changed Political Tribes 2023

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an anti-vaccine activist, is polling close to 20 percent in some Democratic primary polls.

The April 19 University Poll placed his support at 14%, while the New Age sage Marianne Williamson received 5%. Since then, a more recent Emerson College survey places him at 21%, while Williamson is at 8%. According to a Fox News poll, he has 19 percent support, while Williamson has 9 percent.

While it seems unlikely that Kennedy, who recently launched his campaign to challenge President Joe Biden, will play a decisive role in the 2024 election, he could potentially embarrass the president (probably not to the extent that his famous uncle, Sen.

Ted Kennedy, embarrassed then-President Jimmy Carter in the 1980 primary—but surely no incumbent president wants a Kennedy in the primary mix).

Thus, it’s worth investigating why Kennedy is polling so well and what this could mean for the Democratic Party.

The straightforward explanation for Kennedy’s success is his name. However, in 2023, this will only get you so far. Not only is the Kennedy dynasty renowned, but it is also ancient. John F. Kennedy passed away sixty years ago.

Bobby Kennedy, the father of RFK Jr., has been deceased for 55 years. Ted Kennedy’s early and influential endorsement of Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in 2008 was likely the last time a Kennedy will ever have a significant impact on Democratic politics.

However, while the Kennedy dynasty, which epitomizes the establishment, is old and stale, an anti-establishment, unconventional philosophy has always held a certain perverse appeal. Moreover, if this was true in the past, it is undoubtedly true in 2023.

Although he lacks a resume comparable to that of his father, he has spent decades as an influential “conscience of the left” promoting the most extreme form of left-wing environmentalism. Recent examples include persuading his ex-brother-in-law, then-Governor Andrew Cuomo, to close down a nuclear plant, which led to New York state emitting more carbon.

There are many left-wing activists who toil in obscurity, but Kennedy’s stupid activism—and his fame—were both promoted by a liberal mainstream media that spent years elevating him (in this regard, Kennedy is comparable to Donald Trump) and his wacky ideas.

If you have HBO Max, you can presently view RFK Jr.’s appearance in his sister Rory’s amateurishly produced 2004 documentary, Indian Point: Imagining the Unimaginable, which warns of a 9/11-style aerial attack on the nuclear plant located about 50 miles north of New York City. Although extremely alarmist, the documentary was taken seriously and even lauded by the adoring media. Ultimately, the Kennedy progeny claimed credit for advocating for the plant’s closure.

Kennedy promoted anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, which were arguably even more damaging than his radical environmentalism (which paradoxically led to increased fossil fuel use). Once again, he was assisted in spreading his message by reputable liberals.

According to the American Council on Science and Health, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was Jon Stewart’s guest on July 20, 2005. Stewart not only provided RFK Jr. with a platform to disseminate his anti-science rhetoric on vaccines, but he also praised his guest’s efforts to spread the word that vaccines cause autism.

As far as I am aware, Stewart has never apologized.

While Stewart, Bill Maher, and others bolstered his vaccine skepticism, RFK Jr. was reviled by the right.

Since COVID-19, however, former Trump adviser Steve Bannon has reportedly spent “months” encouraging Kennedy to challenge Biden.

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