Voters who wanted an alternative to Trump and Biden got one. Unfortunately, it’s RFK Jr.

(Eric Risberg/Associated Press)

Voters who wanted an alternative to Trump and Biden got one. Unfortunately, it’s RFK Jr.

Opinion piece, Elections 2024

Jonah Goudberg

April 2, 2024

American politics is so intensely stupid and dirty that it sometimes feels like someone is making a series of wishes with a monkey’s paw. The dark moral of The Monkeys Paw, a 1902 short story by English writer WW Jacobs that became a pop culture figure, is that you should be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it.

In 2008, the widespread desire for an African American president who would usher in a new post-racial politics gave way to an era of heightened obsession with and tensions over race. In 2016, the age-old dream of a capitalist outsider running the government like a business produced a man running the government as if it wanted to promote and enrich him. In 2020, the idea that a non-military threat could unite a divided country around a common problem gave way to sharp polarization over the management, treatment and origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

And then there is the dream of the third party or independent candidate who can break the Republican-Democratic duopoly and implement rational politics and policies that do not depend on special interests and fringe ideologues. Few scenarios are more appealing to Americans exhausted by the partisan bickering and sclerosis that define Washington.

The problem is that while voters and donors love the idea in the abstract, many shy away from a flesh-and-blood third-party candidate. Organizations like No Labels and the Libertarian and Green parties rightly emphasize voters’ hunger for an alternative to Donald Trump and President Biden, but they have struggled to find a human as popular as the desire.

In some ways, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. seems like… exactly what people long for. He rejects both sides. And he claims he wants to break the stranglehold of government bureaucracy, the cult of experts and the excessive power of corporate interests.

But while the desire is for a passionate centrist independent of the extremes, in reality Kennedy is an idiot trying to transcend left and right by selling a dog’s breakfast of conspirators from across the ideological spectrum.

Long before Trump, RFK Jr. the original election denier, who insisted that Republicans stole the 2004 election. Before COVID, Kennedy was already known for falsely claiming that all vaccines are dangerous and that some cause autism. He also stands by his claim that cell phones and Wi-Fi cause cancer, despite the lack of evidence of an increase in cancer rates due to the exploding use of these technologies.

Kennedy’s default position is that official statements are suspect, which is another way of saying that all conspiracy theories, from the 9/11 veracity belief, to fringe theories about his own father’s murder, to the idea that the COVID virus was designed to Save Jewish and Chinese people. deserve the benefit of the doubt. It’s as if his entire political persona was designed to capitalize on what political historian Richard Hofstadter called the paranoid style in American politics. It’s a testament to the pervasiveness of the paranoid style that makes it difficult to figure out which party will get Kennedy the most votes.

Our campaign is indeed a spoiler, Kennedy said last week as he announced his running mate, Nicole Shanahan, in Oakland. It’s a spoiler for President Biden and for President Trump.

But therein lies the problem: the same duopoly that Kennedy faces ensures that he can only be a spoiler for one candidate. Hofstadter also said: Third parties are like bees: once they sing, they die. And the party they sting is also the one they are closest to. As of now, it looks like Kennedy wants to stab to the left, to Biden. His choice of Shanahan, a progressive, young, Asian-American, California-based technology lawyer, is indicative of that. Another: Timothy Mellon, the largest donor to Kennedy’s Super PAC, is also Trump’s largest donor. It seems unlikely that spoiling Trump’s candidacy would be his priority.

In the story of Jacob (spoiler alert) the main character uses the monkey’s paw to wish for £200 to pay off his mortgage. The next day he hears that his son has been fatally mutilated in a work accident and he receives a bereavement benefit equal to that amount. After the funeral, the grieving father wishes for his son to be brought back to life. But when he hears a knock on the door, he realizes that the fulfillment of his wish would be a deformed abomination and in panic he makes his last wish. When he opens the door, no one is there.

If you’ve ever desperately wished for a delivery from our two-party system, the man you hear knocking is Robert F. Kennedy Jr.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Hot Topics

Related Articles