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Why I’m Voting for Robert F. Kennedy Jr for President

RFK JR
Photo by Gage Skidmore on Flickr. Creative Commons license.
Author: Steve Peace
Created: 07 June, 2024
Updated: 09 July, 2024
4 min read

Photo by Gage Skidmore on Flickr

 

I’m a lifelong Democrat. I served for more than 20 years in the California Legislature and as Director of Finance under a Democratic governor. I supported and financially contributed to Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Amy Klobuchar in 2020.

I’m supporting Robert Kennedy Jr. in 2024. In recent weeks, much to my surprise, folks have been asking me why.

The answer is pretty simple. Mr. Kennedy is a decent, thoughtful person. I don’t agree with him on every issue. But I know his history and I have listened carefully to what he has to say publicly.

Like any public person he has been subjected to both legitimate criticism as well as ill-informed and intentionally distorted and inaccurate attacks. He has handled both calmly and without rancor or hyperbole.

The first tangible test of any presidential candidate is his selection of a vice president. While I do not know Nichole Shanahan, her extraordinary accomplishments and experience, her youth, and even the fact that she disagrees with Kennedy on some issues, all speak well of Kennedy, his advisors, and the thought process behind her selection.

Most voters today are too young to recall that Robert Kennedy’s 1968 campaign for the Democratic nomination for president was an insurgent populist revolt against an insular party establishment. Insiders were determined to back Lyndon Johnson’s vice president, Hubert Humphrey. 

Humphrey won the nomination at the Democratic Convention in Chicago only to lose in a landslide to Richard Nixon in November.

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When Democrats return this year to Chicago all the delegates will be pledged to President Biden. Robert Kennedy, Jr. won’t be there, despite the fact that Kennedy initially tried to run for the Democratic nomination. 

But the DC insiders, just as in ‘68, feared dissent. They threw every procedural roadblock imaginable in front of Kennedy. They even recruited his own family to oppose his effort and orchestrated the usual and customary attack messaging — distorting both his record and his personal history.

So, he changed course and ran as an independent.

It was not his choice. It was the choice of Democratic power brokers (for such powerful folks, their fear of public opinion is remarkable). And, they are not done. 

They have blocked Secret Service protection for Kennedy, despite the recommendation of the Service itself for such protection; have refused to allow him access to debates; and, have lobbied media outlets to stonewall his access to free media.

Kennedy’s response has been to remain positive, sticking to arguing the issues he believes to be important: A massively growing debt that steals prosperity from young people. Expensive and, to date, unsuccessful interventionist foreign policies. And more. 

Most interesting is his candid and detailed plans on the environment and climate change. He has called for far more aggressive action on LNG exports than Biden and opposed Trump’s “drill baby drill” approach while simultaneously pledging to roll back most of the green industry subsidies and consumer mandates in the Inflation Reduction Act (Orwell must be blushing).

He, of course, has been roundly criticized by corporate self-described environmentalists and the environmental groups they fund. But, Kennedy’s credentials on the environment are beyond reproach.

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He was a successful environmental lawyer at the forefront of cleaning up America’s poisoned waters before anyone outside of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography at UC San Diego ever heard of the Keeling Curve.

You can argue with his suggestions. But, his viewpoints are anchored to a search for real results rather than to political fundraising fueled by clever hedge fund speculators plugging a “move fast and break things” mythology.

This is all worthy of at least respect, if not agreement. But the reason to support Kennedy is simply that he is an honest, imperfect man, tested by tragedy at an early age, who emerged as a man of intellect, humility, and grace.

As hard as I try, I can’t seem to find any of those qualities in the alternatives other than “imperfect.”

But truthfully it’s more than that. Frankly, sometimes the moment is more important than the man. And, if Americans can’t stand up together and say “no more” now, when will we?

Note: In California, where I live, Kennedy will appear on the American Independent Party’s ticket. It’s incredibly ironic given the history of the AIP and its old ties to Alabama Governor George Wallace. It was President John Kennedy and his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who in 1963, stood up to Wallace and others to end the segregation of American schools

Today, the vast majority of AIP Party members have no idea of that history and simply believe that they are registered as “independents.” But there is a certain beauty in the irony. The new California AIP has abolished its old platform and pledged a fresh start

Kennedy gives them a chance to build the party into a genuine agent for change

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