Can RFK Jr Become President As An Independent?
As predicted two weeks ago, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., appears ready to declare as an independent for president. Already polling at 20 percent nationwide, he will announce that he is severing ties with the Democratic National Committee (DNC). This is because the DNC has set up impossible roadblocks to victory within the party apparatus and the primary process. The Biden administration is denying him Secret Service protection despite apparent attempts on his life.
Of all figures in public life today, RFK has the strongest claim to the legacies of his father and uncle, ideologically and culturally. That would put him in the solid category of a real Democrat—half a century ago. Times have changed and dramatically so. He started off this campaign with the belief that he would help guide his family’s party back to a principled commitment to the common good. But he has discovered that this is not what the party is about anymore, at least not according to the masters at the top.
This is a man who believes that America is not lost, not foundationally corrupt, not a complete goner. He looks around at the people in this nation and sees goodness, love of country, a desire for freedom, and a strong devotion to make things right. Conventional American politics, however, seems designed to block real solutions. Because he still wants to make a difference—one senses that he believes it is his destiny—he will continue his run for president as an independent.
In normal times, there would be every reason to predict that he stands zero chance of winning. This is most likely due to Duveger’s law. In this model, voters don’t necessarily push the button for the person they want. Because only one candidate can win, they vote for the person most likely to beat the person they truly hate. That leaves us always with second-best choices, and third-party candidates, no matter how much they are loved, in the lurch.
It’s because of this principle, this habit, this basic logic of voting, that third parties have never performed well in winner-take-all elections. They pop up every four years and usually get 1–5 percent or so and then go away. At best, such candidates have been spoilers: they don’t win, they only block victories for others.
Who benefits from an RFK independent run? The conventional wisdom is that he pulls more from Trump than from Biden, in which case the Democrats benefit from his decision to go independent. But that’s just what the polls say. What happens at the voting booth is another matter. People who despise Trump might be reluctant to vote for RFK for fear that Trump could be made the winner, and people who despise Biden might feel exactly the same.
Both major candidates have major issues, and yet, so far, there doesn’t seem to be anything stopping their nominations.
Which is to say: it is very hard to predict in this environment.
These are not normal times. It is not entirely impossible that RFK’s movement could overcome Durverger’s law simply through passion and excitement. If the polls start showing him as a possible winner, and if his rallies elicit more attendance, intelligence, and commitment than his competitors, that could cause a huge rush away from the two parties over to a genuine alternative.
People might take the risk of “throwing away” their vote to push for the simply incredible, as a way of sending a much-needed message to the establishment of both parties.
If any election year in my lifetime holds out the possibility of such a radical upset—something that would have been inconceivable in the past—it is this one. Vast numbers of people are overwhelmed with distrust of the entire system. And yet the same numbers have not and will not let go of the basic American idea: the people are in charge of their government and should be the determinative force concerning the laws under which we live.
The hurdles are huge: essentially he is battling against the whole history of two-party dominance in the United States. In the 20th century, the history has shown us a number of fairly substantial runs:
- 1912, Teddy Roosevelt, 28 percent
- 1924, Robert LaFollette, 17 percent
- 1948, Strom Thurmond, 3 percent
- 1968, George Wallace, 14 percent
- 1980, John Anderson, 7 percent
- 1992, Ross Perot, 19 percent
None came close to winning. And yet we have to admit that the system has never been as broken as it is today. Few people really want to see a Biden/Trump rematch, and those who do are motivated by a burning passion to reverse or reinforce the 2020 election, the results of which are widely disputed thanks to Trump’s aggressive protests against irregularities.
Let’s just say that this constitutes about one-third of the electorate. What about everyone else who would like to see something like normalcy return to this country without the incredible corruption that has invaded our public lives? RFK makes a credible claim that he has the knowledge and ability to begin to clean up the system in Washington, precisely because he has been litigating against it for many years.
What else does he have going for him? There is an authenticity to his language and approach that no other candidate can match. He is obviously not a professional politician. He speaks and sounds more like the best professor you ever had, with an incredible and ever-present command of facts and information about a huge range of subjects. His recall seems at times to be photographic concerning names, dates, data, and anecdotes. His speeches often seem more like teaching seminars.
In a strange way, we need that now. Regardless of what you think about his views on this topic or that, everyone has to admit that he has an amazing command of all the issues, whether health policy, foreign policy, censorship, or environmental problems. In a startling way, when he doesn’t know something, he outright admits it and seeks out experts to help him.
What’s especially beautiful about RFK is his absolute refusal to censor himself. He believes that the CIA was involved in the killing of his uncle and says that, bringing the receipts. He believes that the FDA and CDC are deeply corrupt, sacrificing American liberty and health in the pay of the legally privileged pharmaceutical industry, and he says that too. He looks around the country and sees a government/corporate cartel crushing the interests of small business, farmers, and the middle class generally, and he says that too.
Most striking of all, none of these points are politically strategic, much less put together by consultants with focus groups. They come from his own mind and heart. He has ruminated on them for many years. Running for president is just his chance to reach a larger audience with a message that is his alone.
There is not a single voter who agrees with all of his positions, and that’s ok. No single voter agrees fully with anyone else because we are human beings. In choosing a president, we are looking for truth telling, courage, sincerity, moral and practical clarity, and a ferocious opposition to government policies that pillage the public for ruling class interests. RFK certainly has a bead on that problem, and, for that reason, we are blessed to have him.
He also benefits from niche interests that he has cultivated and only he represents: the vaccine-injured, the bitcoiners, the civil libertarians, the pro-peace contingent of both parties, the anti-corporatists, the partisans of old-fashioned environmentalism, the unjustly persecuted like Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, and the advocates of better health. Maybe together they make up only 25 percent but they are motivated and determined. They could bring others with them, in the interests of saving this country.
A point I like about the quixotic run as an independent is that it breaks the model. It refuses to see the historical record as a given template of the future. He believes that these emergency times require heroic and unconventional measures. It’s a good bet that a majority of Americans agree with him on this point. Getting people to vote their conscience is the real challenge.
(TLB) published this article by Jeffrey Tucker via The Epoch Times as posted at ZeroHedge
Header featured image (edited) credit: Kennedy/
Emphasis added by (TLB)
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