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RFK Jr., You Are No RFK Or JFK, So Pack For The Sake Of Us All

Phil Garber
12 min readApr 12, 2024


Watch out for Robert Kennedy Jr., just like Ralph Nader and Jill Stein, he may spoil everything.

President George W. Bush was responsible for one of the most costly, bloody and ill-advised U.S. military adventures, the invasion of Iraq which paved the way for Al Qaeda, and its many, deadly affiliates, that are still causing deadly mayhem around the world.

The critical 2000 presidential election came down to Florida where Republican Texas Gov. Bush and his insouciant and forgettable running mate, Sen. Dan Quayle, R-Ind., won the state and the presidency with a razor slim margin of just 537 votes over Democratic Vice President Al Gore and his running mate, Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn.

That year, consumer advocate Ralph Nader ran as the progressive, Green Party candidate and picked up 97,488 votes in Florida. It is very likely that if Nader had dropped out, many of his votes would have gone to Gore, elevating him to the presidency and likely avoiding an Iraqi invasion and all the horror that ensued.

In 2016, trump lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton but he won the electoral college and three pivotal, battleground states, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, by the narrowest of margins.

Green Party’s third party candidate Jill Stein had more votes in each of the three key states than trump’s margin. If Stein had not been on the ticket, it is safe to assume that many of the Stein votes would have gone to Clinton, catapulting her to the White House and sparing us from the worst and most dangerous president in history.

Now, there is the third party candidacy of the conspiracist, anti-vaxxer, scion of the Camelot family, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and his running mate, Nicole Shanahan, the filthy wealthy, former wife of Google founder, Sergey Brin. Kennedy is the son of the martyred Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. He planned to run for president as a Democrat but withdrew his candidacy in the Democratic Party primaries in October 2023 to run as an independent.

Trump supporters are banking on Kennedy to be the Jill Stein-Ralph Nader of the 2024 election. Political observers believe that Kennedy could siphon off votes that would have gone to President Joe Biden. That is because many voters see trump as unacceptable and would vote for Biden. But with Kennedy in the race, those voters will see Kennedy as a better choice than Biden and less acceptable than trump.

Trump called Kennedy “great for MAGA” in a recent video message urging Democrats to support Kennedy over Biden in November’s general election.

Early polling for third party candidates in this election cycle has suggested the highest level of support for such a candidate since Ross Perot in 1992 and 1996. In a three-way match-up, Trump currently holds a narrow lead over Biden, 42 percent to 41 percent. Kennedy trails at a distant third with 8 percent.

Rita Palma, a former Kennedy campaign official, told a gathering of Republicans in New York that ensuring Kennedy is on the state’s ballot would open the door to trump winning there and help them “get rid of Biden,” which she described as her “number one priority.”

“If it’s Trump vs. Biden, Biden wins,” Palma said. “With Bobby in the mix, anything can happen. We’re all on the same team right now and we’ll be on the same team later, as long as Trump or Kennedy wins.”

Palma attended the “Stop the Steal” rally, supporting trump’s bogus claims of voter fraud held just prior to the insurrection by trump supporters at the Capitol. Palma said the insurrection was “99.9 percent peaceful.” She suggested that the 2020 election was “rigged” and that trump should serve more than three terms.

After her comments in New York, Palma was fired from the Kennedy campaign.

Another former Kennedy campaign worker is Del Bigtree, a major anti-vaxxer who was Kennedy’s communications director until he also was fired for making comments that minimized the violence on Jan. 6. Bigtree spoke at a Jan. 6 rally before the insurrection where he raised doubts about the integrity of voting machines. Bigtree is the CEO of the anti-vaccination group Informed Consent Action Network.

“I wish I could tell you that Tony Fauci cares about your safety… I wish I could believe that voting machines worked…” Bigtree told the crowd.

Kennedy also has claimed that “reasonable people, including Trump opponents, tell me there is little evidence of a true insurrection” on the day rioters stormed the Capitol.

“They observe that the protesters carried no weapons, had no plans or ability to seize the reins of government, and that Trump himself had urged them to protest ‘peacefully,’” Kennedy said.

Kennedy has since retracted his comments that none of the rioters carried firearms.

Wealthy Republicans have been investing heavily in Kennedy’s campaign, no doubt beliving that Kennedy will steal votes that otherwise would have gone to Biden. Among them are Elizabeth Uihlein, whose family is among the G.O.P.’s biggest contributors.

Wyoming Republican billionaire Timothy Mellon is the largest single donor to Kennedy’s biggest super PAC, American Values. Over the past year, Mellon has given the Kennedy super PAC $20 million and the Trump super PAC $15 million. Mellon, the largest backer of MAGA Inc., contributed $53 million in stock to a Texas fund paying for construction of a new border wall.

Another wealthy Kennedy supporter is Patrick Byrne, the former chief executive of who was one of the most prominent supporters of the effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Byrne gave $100,000 in Bitcoin to Common Sense, another PAC supporting Kennedy.

Gavin de Becker donated $4.5 million in 2023. He also donated another $10 million in 2024 but was refunded $9.65 million because the donation was “bridge funding” that could be returned if it was not needed or used. De Becker is an author and security executive who consulted for Amazon founder Jeff Bezos during Bezos’s 2021 text message scandal about his affair with a former TV personality.

Abby Rockefeller, a daughter of the investment banker David Rockefeller, gave $100,000 to the American Values 2024 PAC. Rockefeller was a member of Cell 16, a radical feminist organization, in the 1970s. She also founded the Clivus Multrum company, which is the “largest distributor of composting toilets for public use in North America.”

Trump supporters hope to steal votes from Biden by promoting Kennedy as a “champion of choice” for voters who favor a woman’s right to have an abortion and as more environmentally conscious than Biden. Trump backers also plan to support the progressive environmental candidates, especially Jill Stein, to take away Biden votes.

In Michigan, a state with a large population of Muslims, another group is considering running a campaign focusing on Biden’s support for Israel’s war in Gaza.

Trump has called Kennedy a “very smart person” and has suggested him as a potential running mate

“I like Trump-Kennedy. I like the way that sounds,” Trump said. “There’s something about that that I like.”

Another lesser third party candidate is the left-leaning academic Cornell West who is expected to play a small but potentially critical role in the 2024 race, as he will likely take votes away from centrist, Biden.

The third party, No Labels group had support among a fairly large minority of centrist Democrats. The group, however, was unable to attract a candidate and has decided against running in 2024.

Third party candidates have never won the presidency. They have helped turn winners into losers and loses into winners in four presidential contests. Twice, Democrats lost because of a third party candidate; two times, Republicans went down.

In addition to the Bush-Gore and trump-Clinton races, there were the presidential contests of 1912 and 1992.

In 1912 the candidates were former Republican President Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft and Democrat Woodrow Wilson.

Roosevelt became president when second-term Republican President William McKinley was assassinated in September 1901. Roosevelt easily won reelection in 1904 and promised not to run for a third term in 1908.

That left Taft as the GOP candidate. But Roosevelt grew dissatisfied with Republicans who did not favor his progressive policies and he decided to run on a third-party ticket, the Progressive (“Bull Moose”) Party.

Roosevelt’s candidacy split the GOP support, as Roosevelt won 27.4 percent of the GOP vote while Taft got 23.2 percent. That left victory to the winner, Democrat Woodrow Wilson, with 41.8 percent of the vote.

Wilson led the move to create the Federal Reserve Bank in 1913 but he took the nation into World War I in 1917, violating his own campaign promise. Wilson also is considered one of the most racist presidents in the country’s history.

In 1992, the third-party movement of conservative, billionaire businessman Ross Perot picked off enough of the Republican votes, to cause the defeat of President George H.W. Bush for a second term and victory for Democrat Bill Clinton. Clinton won with only 43 percent of the popular vote while Bush garnered 37.4 percent and Perot got 18.9 percent. Perot cost Bush reelection.

In 1980, Rep. John Anderson, R-Ill., ran as an independent against Democratic President Jimmy Carter. Anderson was considered a more liberal candidate than Carter on many social issues. Carter had been hurt by the primary challenge of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. Anderson got more than 6 percent of the popular vote, and Carter lost a chance for a second term to Republican Calif. Gov. Ronald Reagan.

The last third-party candidate to actually win an Electoral College vote was George Wallace, who in 1968 won five Southern states and 46 Electoral College votes as a segregationist with the American Independent Party. It was the first election after civil rights legislation signaled a realignment of Southern White voters against Democrats. Republican Richard Nixon won election.

Kennedy is a conspiracist who promotes disproven and often dangerous theories. Supporters will be in a for a sour disappointment if they expect he will be more centrist and more acceptable than trump.

Kennedy, 68, is an environmental lawyer, anti-vaccine activist, and conspiracy theorist. He is the chairman and founder of Children’s Health Defense, an anti-vaccine advocacy group.

Kennedy is the son of late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and is nephew of the late President John F. Kennedy and Sen. Ted Kennedy, R-Mass. He has law degrees from the University of Virginia School of Law and Pace University.

His running mate, Shanahan, 39, has a law degree and married Brin in 2018. They divorced in 2023 and she started a private foundation, Bia-Echo, in 2019. Shanahan has said she is not an “anti-vaxxer” but has questioned the scientific consensus on vaccine safety and efficacy.

In 2022, the Wall Street Journal reported that Shanahan’s marriage ended because of a “brief affair” in 2021 between Shanahan and billionaire Elon Musk. During divorce proceedings, Shanahan’s attorneys argued that she had signed the prenuptial agreement under duress, and in mediation sought more than $1 billion of Brin’s $95 billion fortune. The divorce was finalized in 2023 in a confidential arbitration.

Shanahan gave $4 million to the super PAC, American Values 2024, about a week before the Super Bowl game, for the express purpose of helping pay for a Super Bowl ad. She also helped coordinate production of the ad, which cost a total of $7 million. The ad drew criticism for comparing Kennedy to his later father and uncle.

After his father’s assassination in 1968, Kennedy was expelled from two boarding schools — Millbrook in upstate New York and Pomfret in Connecticut — for using drugs. In August 1970, Kennedy and his cousin Bobby Shriver were arrested for marijuana possession and placed on 13 months’ probation.

Kennedy was sworn in as an assistant district attorney for Manhattan in 1982 but failed his bar exam and resigned in July 1983. That September, he was charged with heroin possession in Rapid City, S.D., He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years’ probation and community service. After his arrest, he entered a drug treatment center.

On April 15, 1994, Kennedy married his second wife, Mary Kathleen Richardson, aboard a research vessel on the Hudson River. They had four children. On May 12, 2010, Kennedy filed for divorce from Mary. Two years later, on May 16, 2012, Mary was found dead in a building on the grounds of her home in Bedford, N.Y, The Westchester County Medical Examiner ruled the death a suicide due to asphyxiation from hanging. Later it was reported that Mary had seen Kennedy’s personal journal from 2001, in which he recorded sexual encounters with 37 different women.

Since 2005, Kennedy has promoted anti-vaccine misinformation and public health conspiracy theories, including the scientifically disproven claim of a causal link between vaccines and autism.

He is a leading proponent of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation and many of his disproved public health claims have targeted such prominent figures as Anthony Fauci, Bill Gates, and Joe Biden.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kennedy promoted multiple conspiracy theories including false claims that Anthony Fauci, the former chief medical advisor to trump, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation were trying to profit off a vaccine and suggesting that Bill Gates would cut off access to money of people who do not get vaccinated, allowing them to starve.

He has claimed that the COVID-19 pandemic benefitted billionaires; that the government is dominated by corporate power and that the Environmental Protection Agency was run by the “oil industry, the coal industry and the pesticide industry”; and said the Food and Drug Administration is overly dominated by “Big Pharma.

Kennedy and Children’s Health Defense have falsely claimed that vaccines cause autism. He has focused on vaccines that contained thimerosal, a mercury-based microbial that has been falsely claimed to cause autism.

Thimerosal has never been used in MMR, chickenpox, pneumococcal conjugate and inactivated polio vaccines, and in 2001 was removed from all other childhood (under 6 years old) vaccines except for a few versions of flu and hepatitis vaccines.

In February 2021, Kennedy’s Instagram account was deleted “for repeatedly sharing debunked claims” about COVID-19 vaccines. In March 2021, the Center for Countering Digital Hate said Kennedy was one of 12 people responsible for up to 65 percent of anti-vaccine content on Facebook and Twitter.

Kennedy has said that governments and the media are conspiring to deny that vaccines cause autism.

Kennedy has supported a global transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy and has been particularly critical of the oil industry. In one of his first environmental cases, Kennedy filed a lawsuit against Mobil Oil for polluting the Hudson.

Kennedy helped lead the battle against fracking in New York State. He has opposed conventional nuclear power, arguing that it is unsafe and not economically competitive.

Kennedy has said that the gap between rich and poor in the U.S. had become too great and that “the very wealthy people should pay more taxes and corporations.”

In 2023, he said he would sign a federal ban on abortions performed after 21 weeks of pregnancy. He later reversed himself and said he has always supported a woman’s right to choose abortion.

In 2006, Kennedy said that GOP operatives stole the 2004 presidential election for George W. Bush. He has written about the ease of election hacking and the dangers of voter purges and voter ID laws.

Kennedy was critical of the Iraq War and of American support for Ukraine against Russia’s invasion. He condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and called it “a U.S. war against Russia.” He accused the Biden administration of largely causing the 2022 invasion of Ukraine by Russia due to reckless and militant action and the NATO expansion into Eastern Europe.

Kennedy said Ukraine should be forbidden from joining NATO, and that as president he would consider admitting Russia to NATO.

Kennedy said the 2014 Ukrainian revolution was an attempted coup sponsored by the U.S. against the Ukrainian government. He claimed wrongly that the Ukrainian government committed atrocities against the Russian population in Donbas, and that Russians living there “were being systematically killed by the Ukrainian government.”

Kennedy blamed U.S. interventions in countries such as Syria and Iran for the rise of terrorist organizations such as ISIS and creating anti-American sentiment in the region.

Kennedy said the U.S. should significantly cut its military presence in other nations and that the country must “start unraveling the Empire” by closing U.S. bases in different locations worldwide.

Several members of Kennedy’s close family have distanced themselves from his anti-vaccination activities and conspiracy theories on public health, and condemned his comments equating public health measures with Nazi atrocities.

Kennedy’s siblings, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Joseph P. Kennedy, and Maeve Kennedy McKean wrote an open letter on May 8, 2019, saying that Kennedy “has helped to spread dangerous misinformation over social media and is complicit in sowing distrust of the science behind vaccines”. On December 30, 2020, Kennedy’s niece Kerry Kennedy Meltzer, a physician, wrote a similar open letter, saying that her uncle published misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines’ side effects.

In a June 2023 podcast interview with Jordan Peterson, Kennedy posited that several issues in children, including gender dysphoria, might be linked to atrazine contamination in the water supply. He cited a 2010 study by Hayes that claims that acute atrazine exposure causes chemical castration and feminization in frogs, leading some to become hermaphrodites. Kennedy suggested that there was other evidence indicating potential effects on humans. YouTube removed the interview under its vaccine misinformation policy and various publications denounced the theory.