The Truth About Why RFK Jr. Will Not Be Debating Tonight

Robert Kennedy Jr. is the most successful American third-party candidate in 30 years. He’s also a member of one of the biggest families in politics with contacts in all the most important circles. So why is he being shut out of the debate stage?
Robert F. Kennedy

Independent Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced ‘No Spoiler’ pledge for the upcoming elections at a campaign stop in Brooklyn, NY on May 1, 2024 © lev radin / shutterstock.com

June 27, 2024 04:42 EDT

US President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump excluded Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (RFK Jr.) from today’s televised presidential debate. That is, I believe, the most logical explanation for why RFK Jr. won’t be appearing on stage with the major party candidates this Thursday.

Last Thursday was the final deadline to meet broadcaster CNN’s requirements. Kennedy came up short. The barriers to inclusion were borrowed from the now-defunct Commission on Presidential Debates (that organization itself has always had a crippling two-party bias because it has always been stacked entirely with powerful political figures exclusively from the two major parties). Kennedy said in a statement, “My exclusion by Presidents Biden and Trump from the debate is undemocratic, un-American, and cowardly. Americans want an independent leader who will break apart the two-party duopoly.” He is right.

CNN’s debate qualifications are designed to exclude third-party alternatives

The debate requirements were as follows:

  • The candidate must be 35 years old and a native-born US citizen (they got those from the constitution, naturally).
  • The candidate must have polling data that shows 15% support in at least 4 separate surveys from “respected” pollsters.
  • The candidate must be on enough state ballots to win 270 electoral votes.

No one has any objection to the constitutional criteria, of course. However, these other barriers were dreamt up to exclude RFK Jr. and he is right to object to this unfair treatment.

RFK Jr. needed to surpass CNN’s arbitrary 15 percent threshold in at least four national polls. He got three. So close! Busted on a technicality. Never mind that Kennedy is polling higher than any third-party candidate since Ross Perot in the early 1990s. That Kennedy could come so close to this arbitrary goal and be excluded is clear proof of bias against him.

But what about the Electoral College? Doesn’t it make sense to exclude any candidate who is unable to clear 270 Electoral Votes? Not in June! There are still months to go before the final ballot deadlines in sooo many states.

Right now, Kennedy is on the ballot in only 10 states, but if you visit his website, you can see how much time and how many signatures are needed in every state. Arizona, 42,303 by August 17. Virginia, 5,000 signatures by August 23. Wisconsin requires only 2,000 signatures and the window to submit won’t even open until July 1. Do you want 30 more examples of why this metric is unfair? Go ahead and visit Kennedy’s website.

Kennedy’s team has delayed submitting signatures as part of an intentional strategy because the major parties are actively trying to prevent him from winning ballot access in all 50 states. Not only are the major parties throwing up roadblocks at a state level using lawsuits and other pressure to keep Kennedy off the ballot, Biden has gone so far as to establish a Super PAC called Clear Choice, entirely financed by the rich, to keep third-party challengers away from doddering old Grandpa Joe. This is all part of a coordinated strategy coming from both major parties to keep third-party threats out of the discussion.

Now, if we were being objective about who’s on the ballot in enough states to win, RFK Jr. is not the only one. Neither major party has held their conventions yet… therefore, neither candidate has been officially selected as their party’s standard bearer, therefore neither should currently be on enough ballots to win. I mean, if we’re going on technicalities like that, it works both ways.

The system is this way because it serves the two major parties

Here’s the truth that somehow our mainstream political press is neglecting to mention as they blindly go along with excluding RFK Jr. from the debates without objection: Allowing Robert Kennedy to participate in the debates confers legitimacy on his candidacy and makes him an even bigger threat to the major parties.

On June 15, CNN announced some of the debate rules that Biden and Trump agreed upon. They agreed on two commercial breaks, they agreed on podiums, they agreed to mute one another’s microphones while the other was speaking.

They also agreed, perhaps without even a wink or a nudge, that bringing Kennedy on stage was a deal breaker.

When it comes to having a third-party challenger in the race for president, allowing Kennedy on stage at the debate is about the only thing Trump or Biden can control. It’s simple: Refuse to participate if he is there. And I’m quite certain they both did. He is a threat to both of their chances.

RFK Jr. is right there at the cutoff line, so he’s not allowed to debate. And CNN takes the heat for the blatant, arbitrary metrics being used against him. But make no mistake. It is, in fact, Biden and Trump coordinating to exclude him.

Here we have an election with two of the most hated politicians on earth. Here we have a two-party duopoly continually reinforcing the message that a vote for anyone but either of them is “throwing your vote away.” Another way of saying that is: If you don’t vote for a Democrat or Republican, your votes will never count. And the one person in the world who may have a chance to upset that balance is excluded.

This is not democracy. Like it or not, RFK Jr. is a contender. Hailing from the highest social circles in American history. Nephew of an Arthur reborn in our own American version of Camelot. Son of another slain prince. Blessed by almighty what-have-you to spend summers summering at Hyannis Port.

But mainstream media somehow sees no romance in this story. The prince who was promised. John F-ing Snow. Emerging at the moment when the American public is being asked to choose between two candidates almost no one seems to want.

Boring! The mainstream press never talks about Kennedy like that. (Just notice: If our major media wasn’t completely in the tank for the establishment, they would never tire of such a story. More proof that the American propaganda system only allows you to see what it wants you to see.)

All that said, RFK Jr. is not even my preferred choice. Dr. Cornel West, Claudia De la Cruz and Jill Stein are all superior in my view. They get the class war. They are against the genocide in Gaza. RFK can only ever be an elite. (Psst, Bobby, you are running to represent us — so represent us!)

And yet, RFK Jr. is not Trump and he is not Biden… which, come November 5, is probably enough to get my vote. It might be enough to get yours as well. And that, brothers and sisters, is why RFK Jr. won’t be at the presidential debate tonight.

[Let’s Make Them Pay first published this piece.]

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


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