Those who follow politics from a distance may be perplexed by the candidacy of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for the Democratic nomination for president. However, anyone who has been aware of the trajectory of Kennedy’s life for the past 40 years should not be surprised at all.
As with many members of his family, Kennedy dealt with substance abuse issues at a young age. However, he overcame those challenges, earned a law degree, and became a staunch environmentalist, dedicating his time and lending his name to many worthy causes.
However, at some point he went off the rails and veered onto the path of the anti-vaccination movement. Over the past 15 years, he has become one of the most recognizable and outspoken members among the anti-vax crowd. For example, he told Louisiana lawmakers in 2021 that the COVID-19 vaccine was the “deadliest vaccine ever made.”
In addition to his outrageous falsehoods about vaccines, Kennedy has asserted that the CIA conspired to assassinate his uncle, President John F. Kennedy; in interviews he has suggested that chemicals present in water lead to gender identity issues in boys; he has suggested there is a link between the use of antidepressants and mass shootings; and he has asserted that the 2004 presidential election was stolen from John Kerry in Ohio.
In short, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has used his name recognition to espouse every sort of conspiracy theory imaginable. His family members in unanimity have distanced themselves from every one of his claims and are not supporting his candidacy.
But we suspect there is something else at play here, namely, that Bobby Kennedy Jr. is on an ego trip that is the old-man equivalent of a mid-life crisis: At 69 years old, he’s parlaying his name to make one last stab at grabbing the spotlight that has eluded him his whole life and to which he feels he is entitled simply because he is a Kennedy.
Hopefully, the “presidential candidacy” of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will amount to nothing more than a footnote. On the other hand, the candidacies of Ralph Nader in 2000 and Jill Stein in 2016 — both of whom siphoned off just enough votes to defeat Al Gore and Hilary Clinton — are a warning that even fringe candidates can have profound consequences for our democracy.