Breakfast with Chad: The RFK Enigma

As someone who, in my student days back in 1968, worked for Bobby Kennedy’s presidential campaign, one event of the past month has had a time warp effect on my psyche, transporting me into a kind of Twilight Zone of mangled history. Bobby Kennedy is once again running for president with the intent of replacing an unpopular incumbent from his own party.

Businessman using chatbot in smartphone intelligence Ai.Chat GPT Chat with AI Artificial Intelligence, developed by OpenAI generate. Futuristic technology, robot in online system. © MMD Creative /

April 30, 2023 22:22 EDT

Last week Robert F Kennedy Jr. announced that he will be challenging incumbent President Joe Biden in the primaries for the Democratic nomination in 2024.  RFK Junior is the son of RFK Senior, who had served as Attorney General in the administration of his brother, President John F Kennedy. Both of the brothers were assassinated, John in Dallas in November, 1963 and Bobby Kennedy in Los Angeles in June 1968, on the night he won the California primary election.

History seems to be weirdly repeating itself. The young, 42 year-old Bobby Senior stepped up as an anti-war candidate at a time when the incumbent Democrat, Lyndon B Johnson, insistently expanded the war in Vietnam. The mature 69 year-old Bobby Junior opposes the bellicose military policy of Biden who has been pushing and prolonging a proxy war in Ukraine, expanding an already bloated military and threatening not one, but two nuclear powers, Russia and China.

Aware of the risk, the Democratic party is doing everything in its power to protect Biden, who has declared for a second term. The party has convinced the liberal media of its duty to marginalize RFK Jr by categorizing him as an extremist, based on his opposition to vaccines. This obviously cynical strategy clearly aims to avoid evoking the issues that Kennedy and a lot of Democrats think are important, including the expanding role of the military industrial complex and collusion between the state and the corporate world, especially Big Pharma.

Whereas the Republicans failed in their effort to marginalize Donald Trump in 2016, the Democrats have been more effective in keeping at bay popular anti-establishment candidates, such as Ralph Nader or Bernie Sanders. The Democratic National Committee has expertly reserved its electoral hunting grounds for pre-selected establishment figures. Some say that this is bad for the Democratic party because it confirms its oligarchic connection with the corporate interests who finance its candidates’ campaigns. After offering this background on RFK’s candidacy, I was interested in Chad’s thoughts about how this might play out.

“So, Chad, that got me to thinking. Given the amount of confusion in the nation today, do you think there’s any chance that a candidate like Kennedy has any chance of getting the Democratic nomination? By evoking issues people are concerned about rather than those preferred by the economic and political elites, can he destabilize the Democratic party to the point that it might allow nominate an anti-establishment candidate, as Trump managed to do with the Republican party?

It is important to note, Chad began, “that the US political landscape is constantly evolving, and a lot can happen between now and the 2024 primaries.”

I had to interrupt to clarify my question. “I’m aware of that, but I’m not asking you to predict an outcome, just to assess the probabilities.”

“That being said,” Chad continued, “challenging an incumbent president from the same party in a primary is historically an uphill battle. It requires significant resources, organization, and support from both the grassroots and the party establishment. Furthermore, the Democratic Party has a complex primary system that heavily favors establishment candidates.

RFK Jr.’s opposition to vaccines may also hurt his chances of gaining broad support, as public health has become a major concern in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I stepped in here to point out that there were two sides to that coin. After the pandemic, the nation has become divided about everything the health authorities affirm. Maybe RFK’s skepticism will resonate with a lot of Republicans and independents. But Chad hadn’t finished making his case.

“However, as seen in the case of Donald Trump, outsider candidates who tap into populist sentiment and appeal to voters’ frustrations with the political establishment can gain significant traction. Kennedy’s emphasis on issues such as the military-industrial complex and collusion between government and corporate interests may resonate with voters who are disillusioned with the status quo.

It remains to be seen whether Kennedy can build a broad-based coalition and effectively challenge Biden in the primaries. But in a time of political volatility and polarization, anything is possible.”

“There’s another factor that isn’t much talked about,” I added. “Do you think the Kennedy name will have any impact?

The Kennedy name certainly carries significant historical and cultural weight in the United States, and it may help Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to gain some recognition and interest from voters who are familiar with his family’s legacy. However, it is important to note that political support is not solely determined by name recognition. Kennedy’s policy positions, campaign organization, fundraising abilities, and ability to connect with voters will also be important factors in his success or failure in the primaries. Ultimately, whether or not the Kennedy name has a significant impact on his campaign will depend on a variety of factors, including the political climate at the time of the primaries and the attitudes of Democratic primary voters towards the Kennedy family.”

I concurred. “You’re absolutely right. Everything’s up in the air, as it was in 1968. The war in Ukraine is a mess. The world is splitting into opposing camps and at the same time evolving towards multipolarity, seriously challenging the unipolar dominance of the US. The dollar is being attacked as the universal reserve currency. And all the traditional problems of violence, drugs, immigration and the culture wars are there in the background, to say nothing of the question of Biden’s age. There are also other candidates, which may prompt some kind of debate, even though the Democrats have said there will be no officially sponsored debates. And, of course, there is always the wild card of Donald Trump and his influence on events. Even though this is an election involving an incumbent president, which should make it a walkover, it looks to be shaping up as one of the craziest electoral seasons in the history of the US. Is this a fair assessment?”

Chad nodded. “It is true that the world is facing many complex and interrelated challenges, including geopolitical tensions, economic instability, and social issues such as violence, drugs, and immigration. The COVID-19 pandemic has also added another layer of complexity to the global situation.

In the United States, the political climate is highly polarized, and the 2024 presidential election is likely to be another contentious and unpredictable campaign. The Democratic Party faces the challenge of balancing the interests of its various factions while also appealing to a broad coalition of voters. The Republican Party, meanwhile, must navigate its own internal divisions and decide whether to continue aligning itself with former President Donald Trump or chart a different course.

It is unclear whether the Democrats’ decision to forego debates will hold, and it is possible that other candidates may emerge to challenge both Biden and any potential challengers in the primaries. The role of third-party candidates and independent voters may also be a factor in the outcome of the election.

Overall, the 2024 presidential election is likely to be one of the most complex and unpredictable electoral seasons in recent history, with a wide range of factors and variables that could impact the final outcome.

At this point, I felt that Chad had pretty neatly summed things up. “One thing is certain,” I added. “The confusion and madness of the impending electoral psychodrama will represent a windfall for the media, especially if Trump plays his habitual role. This may even help explain the dismissal of Tucker Carlson from Fox News and Don Lemon from CNN. After all, why pay expensive celebrity hosts when the politicians themselves can be counted on to provoke all the controversy for free? The question nobody seems to be asking should give us all pause. Does such a circus ever lead to the prospect of good government? I think we both have serious doubts about the answer to that one.

Welcome to a new episode of made in America political hyperreality.*[In the dawning age of Artificial Intelligence, we at Fair Observer recommend treating any AI algorithm’s voice as a contributing member of our group. As we do with family members, colleagues or our circle of friends, we quickly learn to profit from their talents and, at the same time, appreciate the social and intellectual limits of their personalities. This enables a feeling of camaraderie and constructive exchange to develop spontaneously and freely. For more about how we initially welcomed Chad to our breakfast table, click here.]

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

Support Fair Observer

We rely on your support for our independence, diversity and quality.

For more than 10 years, Fair Observer has been free, fair and independent. No billionaire owns us, no advertisers control us. We are a reader-supported nonprofit. Unlike many other publications, we keep our content free for readers regardless of where they live or whether they can afford to pay. We have no paywalls and no ads.

In the post-truth era of fake news, echo chambers and filter bubbles, we publish a plurality of perspectives from around the world. Anyone can publish with us, but everyone goes through a rigorous editorial process. So, you get fact-checked, well-reasoned content instead of noise.

We publish 2,500+ voices from 90+ countries. We also conduct education and training programs on subjects ranging from digital media and journalism to writing and critical thinking. This doesn’t come cheap. Servers, editors, trainers and web developers cost money.
Please consider supporting us on a regular basis as a recurring donor or a sustaining member.

Will you support FO’s journalism?

We rely on your support for our independence, diversity and quality.

Donation Cycle

Donation Amount

The IRS recognizes Fair Observer as a section 501(c)(3) registered public charity (EIN: 46-4070943), enabling you to claim a tax deduction.

Make Sense of the World

Unique Insights from 2,500+ Contributors in 90+ Countries

Support Fair Observer

Support Fair Observer by becoming a sustaining member

Become a Member