Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is giving Democrats fits. The son of former Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of President John F. Kennedy recently declared himself an independent and is running for president. Why should that alarm his former Party? Three reasons:
- 1. Because they know that Joe Biden is a ridiculous candidate and undeserving of another 4 years in the Oval Office. His lame response to the horrific attack on Israeli citizens – a two-minute Teleprompter talk in three days even as Americans have been slaughtered – confirms what the majority of Americans believes: Joe is not up to the job. Party apparatchiks are panicked that given an alternative – any alternative — to Joe Biden, support for the sitting president will collapse.
- 2. Kennedy’s defection will convince many traditional Democrats that their concerns about the leftward lurch of the party are legitimate. Kennedy argues that this is not his father or his uncle’s Democratic Party and he is right.
- 3. RFK Jr. is switching parties partly in protest of the Democratic National Committee’s non-democratic behavior. The DNC has not allowed any debates among those vying for the nomination, and its decision to hold the first primary in South Carolina was clearly meant to tee Biden up for a second run. Calcification is not a great look for a major political party.
President Biden is vulnerable on many fronts. His policies on the economy, immigration and crime are unpopular, his approval ratings the worst in a generation, he is clearly suffering a decline in mental acuity and he cannot be trusted. This is the candidate former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrat leaders are protecting.
Not only is Biden viewed as corrupt by a majority of Americans, he is a fabulist, routinely concocting absurd stories that place him at the center of events, in order to project ’empathy.’ Biden claims his house burned down, that he served as a ‘liaison’ to Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir during the Six-Day War and spent time at the Tree of Life Synagogue after the 2018 killings. He was, according to his own telling, raised in synagogues, brought up in a Black church, schooled as a Puerto Rican, applied to the U.S. Naval Academy, and ‘almost’ tried out for the NFL. None of it is true.
This isn’t Grandpa in the country-club bar entertaining the off-duty wait staff; this is the president of the United States on the campaign trail, and we’re supposed to think it’s OK.
Kennedy offers something for everybody, which threatens, especially, Joe Biden and to a lesser degree Donald Trump.
It isn’t OK, and even die-hard Democrats are beginning to say so. Liberal columnists like Maureen Dowd of the New York Times and the Washington Post’s David Ignatius and foreign policy guru and never-Trumper Eliot Cohen are among those now encouraging Joe Biden to exit the race.
They argue Biden is too old to run again, but soften the blow by lauding his accomplishments. But really they are watching the polls, which increasingly show Biden losing to former President Donald Trump in a hypothetical rematch. And, they are watching reality squash the image of Biden as a well-meaning moderate Democrat who has the right policies but not the energy to follow them through to success.
Biden’s policies can be summed up as wanting to undo everything Trump accomplished in his years in the Oval Office.
Biden obliterated Trump’s border policies and, consequently, the border.
He overturned Trump’s pursuit of the Abraham Accords, the greatest diplomatic breakthrough in decades. Instead of trying to bring Saudi Arabia and Israel together, Biden went out of his way to insult the leaders of both those nations and instead courted the vicious mullahs of Iran, who just orchestrated the worst attack on Israel in 50 years.
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates famously wrote that Joe Biden has been ‘wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.’ The streak continues.
The pile-up of disasters has inspired two-thirds of Democrat-leaning voters to say they do not want Biden to run again; they want someone else. In a recent CNN poll, no alternative candidate got more than 3% of the vote. RFK, Jr. can step into that void.
RFK reminds voters that Democrats did not used to be the party of war or backers of Big Pharma. He rails about corruption in both major parties and the bitter partisanship dividing our nation. He pledges to be honest with the American people.
His pitch on the economy is simple, anchored in the belief that ‘People who work hard should be able to afford a decent life.’ He chides the White House’s failures noting that, ‘Take-home pay after inflation and taxes has fallen 9% since Biden took office.’
Kennedy’s politics are all over the lot. Conservatives love his skepticism about top-down vaccine mandates but loathe his green energy embrace, enthusiasm for Big Labor and opposition to defense spending. Democrats may celebrate his push for free childcare but hate his determination to stamp out illegal immigration and they are horrified by his anti-vax history.
Kennedy offers something for everybody, which threatens, especially, Joe Biden and to a lesser degree Donald Trump. Trump supporters, an Ipsos poll reveals, are more committed to their candidate than are backers of Biden; they are less likely to stray.
Before his announcement, Real Clear Politics showed Kennedy capturing an average of 15% of the Democrat primary vote. In the Ipsos poll, Kennedy secures 14% of a three-way vote, with Biden winning 31% and Trump 33%.
The election is a long way off, and independent candidates rarely make much of a dent. This time could be different, in that the two leading contenders are both unpopular. More important, and more worrisome for Biden, is that young voters age 18-29 appear to be drifting away from the Democrat Party, and becoming independents. These voters could latch onto RFK Jr.’s campaign.
Young Americans, analysts say, are ‘disillusioned’ with Joe Biden. Who isn’t?