What Kennedy’s Independent Candidacy Means to Biden and Trump
Democrats are in a snit. RFK Jr. is returning the copious fairness -- even generosity -- that they’ve shown him with big slaps on their kissers. On October 9, Kennedy is expected to announce he’s running for president sans Democrat by his name. The announcement will be made from Philly, no less, where Unser Führer Joe Biden staged a very Third Reichian denouncement of Donald Trump and millions of MAGA voters who “threaten the very foundations of our republic.” Kennedy may have chosen the locale to smite the tinhorns.
In the coming weeks and months, lively speculation will abound as to who Kennedy’s independent venture helps or hurts more, Biden or Trump. We’ll say it hurts old Joe -- or whoever Joe’s replacement is, if he’s replaced.
In his announcement, Kennedy is expected to condemn attacks on First Amendment rights. He does so now. Defense of the First Amendment unsettles Democrats, unless it conforms to their Orwellian twist: “Censorship is free speech.”
Kennedy is jumping ship because he’s a little worn out by Democrats’ indulgences -- like rigging primaries to favor Biden, who, since his virtuoso Great Dictator impersonation, has drifted deeper into stumbling, babbling dementia. Yet, even when old Joe was forced to hang out in the basement, Democrats pushed him over the finish line, successfully fixing some key state elections to defeat Trump by a whisker.
Four years later, Democrats have fine-tuned election rigging. You can bet on it. Plus, they’re arrogant p***ks. They doubtlessly believe that however lopsided public sentiment is against Joe, they can drag his withering carcass across the finish line yet again. Or, heaven forefend, if Joe kicks the bucket, they can Weekend at Bernie’s him into the White House.
RFK Jr. is also skedaddling because he’s made repeated requests for Secret Service protection. He’s convinced that the CIA killed his uncle Jack or played a part. His dad was gunned down in the kitchen of the long-demolished Ambassador Hotel. Kennedy suspects that Sirhan Sirhan wasn’t the trigger man.
Kennedy must calculate that Biden’s handlers refusal to provide protection for him goes beyond adherence to protocol and budget consciousness.
With Trump’s ascension in 2015, government elites revealed themselves to be a ruthless bunch. False accusation, entrapment, impeachment, and lawfare have targeted Trump and others. Nonviolent J6ers languish in prisons and some who have been tried and convicted of misdemeanor offenses have received punitive sentences.
Two Democrat-run state jurisdictions and a thoroughly corrupted DoJ have leveled sham indictments against Trump, 91 in all. These unprecedented abuses of law are designed to terminate Trump’s presidential bid, thereby denying voters a legitimate choice. The second is to utterly ruin the man.
That’s a long way of asking if a darker motive is possible in denying Secret Service protection to Kennedy?
That RFK Jr. is jumping ship is no small deal. The Democrat Party is the Kennedys ancestral home politically. Jack and Bobby were loyal Democrats, even though Bobby helped nudge out LBJ in ’68. Teddy challenged the flailing Jimmy Carter for his party’s nomination in ’80 and was competitive. Though he didn’t help Carter in the general, he didn’t bolt the party, either.
But if old bootleggin’ Joe Kennedy was alive to see how his grandkid is being kicked around by a bunch of party hacks and hustlers, his Irish would be way up. Not only would he bless RFK Jr.’s maverick run but invoke the old family motto: “Don’t get mad, get even.”
As to Kennedy’s chances of winning the presidency, keep in mind that he’ll have to secure enough state ballots to gain 270 electoral votes. That’s a tall order. His best bet would be to run on the Libertarian ticket, if possible. The Libertarian Party has the infrastructure to get him on most state ballots.
It could be that Kennedy simply intends to get even with Democrats by trying to shift the party’s locus back toward the middle.
For him, ’24 may be about an insurgency, kinda like what young leftists staged in the aftermath of Humphrey’s ’68 loss to Nixon. That insurgency came to full bloom in ’72, when George McGovern captured the Democrat presidential nomination. Though McGovern was crushed by Nixon, the Democrat Party would no longer be the party of bosses and old JFK-style liberalism.
If Kennedy’s aim is to drag the Democrat Party back toward the center, that’s a long shot. The party’s momentum drives it leftward, toward tyranny. Today’s Democrats threaten the republic in ways that rival the threat posed by Democrats in the 1850s. It actually may be worse this time because these Democrats seek dominance, not disunion.
But how could Kennedy’s independent candidacy hurt Joe and help Trump?
Kennedy provides a safe haven for Democrats who are disenchanted with Biden or aspects of his administration’s agenda. Yes, those Democrats exist. Democrat-leaning independents -- who are anti-Trump but sick of Biden -- could park their votes with him. That could constitute a critical drain on Biden’s support in five states that decided the ’20 election: Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire.
There are other states -- like Michigan and North Carolina -- where Kennedy could pull enough votes to put those states in play. North Carolina in play wouldn’t be to Trump’s advantage, but we’ll bet Trump holds the Tar Heel State.
What are Kennedy’s prospects of damaging Trump?
Among what cohorts is Trump likely to see defectors? Among establishment Republican voters (RINOs) and squishy Republican-leaning independents. But aren’t they prone to defect, anyway?
Keep in mind that Trump’s base support and then some are a Rock of Gibraltar. It drove Trump’s candidacy through ’16 and drove him to achieve an historic vote total for an incumbent president in ’20. That base plus will be there for him in ’24. (We’re assuming Democrat lawfare fails to waylay Trump next year.) In a three-way race, where Kennedy has more pull among unhappy Democrats and Democrat-leaners, Trump’s base support plus may be more than sufficient to win swing states -- at least the right combination to give him the presidency.
In a three-way race, it becomes tougher for Democrats to manufacture more votes from the same number of jurisdictions -- tougher, not impossible. Democrats would certainly try to up their tallies to offset the Kennedy Effect.
A key question is, “Will Biden be the Democrat nominee in ’24?” Even if Biden dies or is given the hook, Democrats’ alternatives aren’t appealing.
Michelle Obama? The smart money is that she adores being a really rich woman who’s paid lavishly to spout her opinions at high-dollar progressive soirees. There’s no heavy lift in her.
Kamala? How do Democrats sack Kamala without cutting a backroom deal with her involving a lot of money and plenty of face-saving? She could be their nominee, and even for a party that cheats, she might be too much to overcome.
Gavin Newsom? He’d probably be the elite’s favorite. But slick-haired Gavin won’t wear well. He comes across like a smarmy used car salesman. His political success is due to family connections (Nancy Pelosi is his aunt) and the dreary fact that California is a one-party state.
Whatever RFK Jr.’s impact is on the contest, he needs to be taken seriously. His agenda, while in many ways conventionally progressive, offers some truly bold departures for a contemporary Democrat. He’s for liberty in important ways. He’s against war, and against concentrations of power in the private and public sectors.
Let’s hope Kennedy helps defeat Biden or whoever next year. Then let’s hope Trump extends a hand to him and his allies. Defeating the wannabe tyrants in our midst and restoring this nation to the fullest measure of liberty should be every patriot’s aim.
J. Robert Smith can be found regularly at Gab @JRobertSmith. He also blogs occasionally at Flyover. He’s returned to Twitter. His Twitter handle is @JRobertSmith1.
Image: Gage Skidmore