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Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s Twisted Fantasy

Armed with paranoid conspiracy theories about America’s descent into chronic sickness, loneliness, and depression, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is clearly targeting disenchanted Democratic voters. The scion of a storied political family appears to be lost in a twisted fantasy in which he realizes his forebears’ idealistic dreams.

NEW YORK – Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., scion of one of America’s most storied political families, is running for president of the United States. But unlike his late uncles – President John F. Kennedy and Senator Ted Kennedy (who unsuccessfully ran for president in 1980) – or his late father, Senator Robert F. Kennedy (who was assassinated during his own presidential run), RFK Jr. is not campaigning as a Democrat. Instead, he is running as the head of a newly formed third party, We the People. Thus unfolds the latest chapter in the bizarre and increasingly dangerous deformation of contemporary American politics.

Many political commentators have taken Kennedy to task for launching a spoiler campaign that could peel disenchanted Democrats away from President Joe Biden and hand the White House to Donald Trump. According to a Siena College poll of voters in six battleground states (Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin), more Democrats than Republicans (18% versus 16%) appear likely to back Kennedy. Little wonder the billionaire Republican megadonor Timothy Mellon has been bankrolling Kennedy’s super PAC (an ostensibly independent organization that can legally raise and spend unlimited sums on a candidate’s behalf).

Kennedy’s choice of running mate, Nicole Shanahan, a 38-year-old patent attorney and past supporter of Democratic causes and candidates, offers further evidence that Kennedy is targeting Democratic voters. Shanahan calls herself a disenchanted Democrat, and she has publicly invited like-minded others to jump onto the Kennedy bandwagon. As part of her 2023 divorce settlement with Google co-founder Sergey Brin, she reportedly sought more than $1 billion (a mere 1% of his estimated net worth). That sum would place her in an uncommonly advantageous position to help finance the complex and expensive effort to get Kennedy on the ballot in all 50 states.