RFK’s presidential campaign feels too good to be true

Robert F. Kennedy waved the peace sign minutes before he was assassinated. It was 1968 and he was running for president as a Democrat, having just won the California primary. To his admiring audience, he said, “What has been going on within the United States over the period of the last three years, the division, the violence, the disenchantment with our society, the division…We can start to work together. We are a great country. We are a selfless country and a compassionate country.” 

Now, fifty-four years later, his son, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (RFK), is running for president as an Independent. I love not only the history of the Kennedys but the concept of the golden, all-American family who vacationed in Cape Cod — two charismatic sons who sympathized with civil rights leaders, treated working Americans with dignity and spoke of peace. 

The stakes are too high to be disillusioned by JFK Jr.’s fictional heroism.

The Kennedys were America’s most charming family, and progressives still mourn losing what could have been. The disenchantment RFK spoke of seems to have turned into resentment. His son wants that to change. 

On this year’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day, RFK Jr. announced his Independent candidacy in Philadelphia and made several commendable remarks. 

“Our country is now ready to explore and to tell each other the untold histories of those dispossessed people who have previously languished on the margins, but today as the corrupt powers have overtaken our government, the ranks of the dispossessed…include Indigenous Americans, Black and Hispanic Americans, they include tens and millions of people who live paycheck to paycheck in financial desperation.”

His speech was rich with federalist ideology, preaching that Americans deserve support and not belittlement by a “smug elite that has rigged the system in its favor.” Kennedy aims to rest the reigns of both parties and restore the power to the people. 

He spoke of elderly people he’s met, who cut their pills in half to prolong their prescription and small business owners who had to close shop while Amazon “cashed out.” He spoke of the environment and the dead fish he’s pulled from polluted rivers. 

RFK Jr. is known for his accomplishments as an environmental lawyer. He was arrested in 2013 in Washington, D.C., during a protest against the Keystone XL pipeline and achieved significant victories over DuPont Company and Monsanto. 

He remarked, “The problem is not young people. The problem is what my generation, the old people, have done to politics. The Millennials and Gen Z are repelled by the toxicity, the pettiness, and more than anything else by the dishonesty, they want authenticity.”

A political climate worthy of the engagement of young people is what Kennedy aims to accomplish as president – which is a nice thought. 

Recently, Kennedy has not made headlines for activism, but for a New York Post leaked video of a private meeting, he said, “Covid-19 is targeted to attack Caucasians and Black people. The people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese.” 

There is no scientific evidence to support his claim. To imply Jewish and Chinese people are somehow less susceptible to Coronavirus labels these groups of people as ‘different.’ Though he did not explicitly instigate violence, those types of comments do not favor the safety of Jewish and Chinese communities and could validate potential bias. 

When young people decide to investigate their dream candidate, they become disappointed. 

Cryptocurrency is an indulgence of Kennedy, hypocritical of his environmental allegiance, as the mining of Crypto rapidly consumes emissions. He is known famously as an anti-vaccine activist but testified the opposite at a House hearing on government censorship in July. 

The stakes are too high to be disillusioned by JFK Jr.’s fictional heroism. He may have said the right things, but that doesn’t mean he will do them, and he resembles nothing of his family legacies. His candidacy also threatens Biden’s numbers in what is predicted to be a razor-close general election in 2024. 

Kennedy’s independent candidacy is a dream for Americans who want environmental justice and a better quality of life. Knowing of his hypocrisy does not make one feel worthy of the new political climate he spoke of creating but instead, scammed. 

Which, last time I checked, was the Trump Administration’s job.



Featured photo courtesy of Center for American Progress Action Fund, Flickr