How to Argue for RFK Jr.: Ten Things to Tell Your Uncle
By David Talbot, Columnist, The Kennedy Beacon
By David Talbot, columnist, The Kennedy Beacon
In a three-way presidential race with Joe Biden and Donald Trump, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is clearly the most sensible choice. There, I’ve said it. What I truly believe, what is directly honest. The words that certainly set off many of your family members and friends over Thanksgiving weekend. The words that provoked loud arguments around the dinner table. (Yes, mine too.)
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In truth, it’s getting better. The liberal corporate media, which just months ago hysterically attacked Kennedy with one screeching voice, has softened a bit as he rises higher in the polls. But Bobby supporters still risk a firestorm of acrimony when they mention his name — because many of our enlightened relatives and friends read The New York Times or listen to NPR and watch PBS and MSNBC.
So, I’m going to give you a RFK Jr. cheat sheet, to help you explain why he is the most compelling candidate in the race. I cover ten of the biggest issues facing the country. On every one, Bobby ranks the highest. That’s why I’ll eagerly vote for him. And that’s why all the squabbling — I mean delightful — people who gathered for last week’s holiday feast should join us.
RFK Jr. will finally clean up the Washington swamp. Yes, our nation’s capital is a quagmire of corruption. But unlike Trump, President Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will actually drain it. RFK Jr. has spent much of his life crusading against the industries that profit from polluting our air and water and even our bodies. As an environmental lawyer and public health crusader, he knows that those powerful industries have captured Washington. The federal regulatory agencies that were set up to protect us have become “sock puppets for the industries they are supposed to regulate,” Kennedy has said. RFK Jr. knows who to appoint and what to crack down on. As president, he will make sure that those government agencies finally do their jobs and no longer function as subsidiaries of big corporations.
He'll end the forever wars. As president, Kennedy has vowed to resume his uncle JFK’s mission and wind down the costly U.S. empire and the military-industrial racket that obscenely profits from it. He wants to reduce our ballooning national debt, with its crushing tax burden on the middle class, by slashing the annual military budget in half, to a still-ample $500 billion. The U.S. is an aggressive empire overseas and a surveillance state at home, Kennedy says, with our democracy becoming “a Hollywood stage set, a kabuki theater… None of us believes that our voices are audible to anyone in the government.” In keeping with his uncle’s vision, RFK Jr. promises to close most of the military bases encircling the globe and to “abandon the provocative policies toward China and Russia… It is not too late to reclaim the path to peace and reshape the nation’s future.”
He challenges the Bidenomics myth. President Biden’s cheerleaders can’t understand why the rising gross national product and the falling inflation rate haven’t bolstered the spirits of the American people. But Bobby Kennedy Jr. understands the economic reality for most Americans is much grimmer than the White House would like us to think. Kennedy knows that most of us live paycheck to paycheck, not in the happy bubble that, for instance, The New York Times columnist (and corporate consultant) Paul Krugman, a Biden booster, occupies. And most of us are crushed by increasing debt, which we are putting on our “Wells Fargo, Chase, Bank of America, Citibank (credit cards),” Bobby recently posted on X. “These companies are charging as high as 22% to 37% interest. If the mafia did that, they would call it loan-sharking and they would go to prison, but it’s business as usual for those companies.” Even a president can’t easily reverse the predatory practices of big banks, but isn’t it good to have a candidate who feels our pain and wants to alleviate it?
He will be the first environmental activist in the White House. RFK Jr., who grew up with healthy streams and animals, feels the wonders of nature deep in his soul, as he has written and said many times. During his long career as an environmental lawyer, he joined with the Waterkeeper Alliance and local fishers to clean up the Hudson River and other waterways. He has also successfully sued Monsanto and other polluters, and is all too aware of how these companies evade clean air and water regulations and put profits ahead of human health. No leader is as deeply committed to protecting the natural world we live in. He sees the struggle for a clean environment in both economic and public health terms. Pollution is a burden on all of us taxpayers, and according to a recent study in Science magazine, pollution from coal-fired power plants killed approximately 460,000 people in the United States between 1999 and 2020, making it more than twice as deadly as other kinds of fine particulate emissions. Moreover, he sees his environmentalism in spiritual terms. “God talks to human beings through many vectors,” RFK Jr. has said. “But nowhere with such detail, and grace and joy, as through creation. When we destroy nature, we diminish our capacity to sense the divine.”
He will combat the housing crisis. Nowhere is affordable shelter more of a burning issue than in San Francisco, my hometown, where thousands of homeless people live on the sidewalks in squalid camps while nearby luxury apartments and offices sit vacant. Bobby knows that most of San Francisco’s tent-dwellers once had homes in the city. He also knows that the homeless crisis in San Francisco –- a once-shining city he loved visiting as a boy and where he lived for a time during his legal battle with Monsanto — is becoming a national emergency. As Kennedy understands, there is a severe shortage of affordable homes because the housing market has become colonized by a few financial behemoths. “Why are home prices going up?” he wondered at a recent campaign rally in Ojai, California. “Mainly because there are three giant companies — BlackRock, State Street and Vanguard — that already own 88 percent of the S&P 500. Now they have decided to buy all the residential housing and all the farmland. We are going from a nation of owners to a nation of renters and that’s what our kids are going to grow up with. That’s going from citizens to subjects.” Under a new President Kennedy, the federal government will push back against the corporate takeover of the housing market by offering home buyers mortgage interest rates of 3 percent, instead of the current rates, which have spiked to over 7 percent.
He will impose humane and rational controls at the porous southern border. Sorry, PBS NewsHour, RFK Jr. was right — at least seven million migrants have crossed into the U.S. illegally since 2021. As Kennedy discovered during his fact-finding mission to the U.S.-Mexico border earlier this year, most of this traffic is controlled by the narco gangs that prey on migrants, not by federal border authorities, who are frustrated and demoralized by the Biden administration’s dithering immigration policies. Now this migrant tide is washing up in Democratic cities like New York and Chicago, straining those cities’ social services and causing major political problems for their leaders. “Just as a cell has a membrane, a country must have borders or it will disintegrate,” says Kennedy, who wants to tighten controls at the border, increase the capacity for legal immigration, work closely with the Mexican government to control the flow, and stop politically destabilizing countries, which aggravates our immigration woes.
He will respond to future outbreaks of Covid or other plagues in a rational manner. Instead of responding to Covid in a scientifically selective way, isolating the sick, the U.S. government under Presidents Trump and Biden promoted a massive lockdown strategy with destructive side-effects that continue to this day. Millions of stores and businesses were shuttered. A generation of school kids was pedagogically and socially harmed. “We shut down 3.3 million businesses in this country. Amazon was kept open,” RFK Jr. has pointed out, even though the huge online retailer doesn’t pay any local or federal taxes. Corporate giants like Amazon “are strip-mining our wealth and the equity from the American middle class and they are dooming this generation of kids.” By the way, Kennedy adds, despite the national lockdown, the U.S. still had terrible outcomes during the Covid pandemic. “We had 16 percent of the Covid deaths, but only have 4.2 percent of the world’s population. A lot of that is due to our chronic disease burden. The CDC said the average person who died from Covid in the U.S. had 3.8 chronic diseases — obesity, asthma, diabetes and so on.” Kennedy has promised to reverse this public health crisis.
He will use the White House platform to speak out against the rising tide of censorship. When RFK Jr. testified at a congressional hearing on censorship in July, Democratic members of the House Judiciary subcommittee like Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Dan Goldman tried to silence him. He was not the only one who pointed out the heavy irony. “Censorship is antithetical to the Democratic Party,” Kennedy stated. “It was appalling to my father, my uncle” and to a host of other party heroes. But, as RFK Jr. has observed, the policing of free speech has increased on both sides of the political aisle. The Biden administration, Big Media, and even social media have sought to muzzle critics and dissidents — provoking lawsuits from the Kennedy campaign. Countless writers, filmmakers and artists feel compelled to self-censor their work to avoid the wrath of cancel culture. RFK Jr. is the only major presidential candidate who has boldly spoken out for free speech and the American values enshrined in our Constitution.
He will pay back some of the wealth stolen from African Americans. In October, RFK Jr. came out for reparations to all those who built our country but were denied a stake in it. “Communities that were specifically targeted for destruction need to be specifically targeted for repair,” he stated on his campaign website. “During Jim Crow, Black banks, businesses, hospitals, schools, and farms were targeted for destruction. Racists knew that without these, the Black community had no chance of building wealth. We must set federal dollars aside to rebuild Black infrastructure.” Kennedy has vowed to work with Congress to devise a reparations plan that is politically and legally viable.
He will restore public faith in the government’s credibility. RFK Jr., who has spoken openly about his long struggle with depression and heroin addiction in his 20s, joked that if all the skeletons in his closet could vote, he’d win in a landslide. In contrast to his refreshing honesty, Washington has a big trust problem. Polls show that this erosion of faith in the federal government began with assassination of his uncle President John F. Kennedy and the cover-up of the epic crime. According to a recent Gallup survey, 65 percent of American adults think JFK was the victim of a conspiracy, not the lone gunman dreamed up by the official Warren Commission. A sizable percentage of these skeptics suspect agencies of the federal government itself, such as the CIA (which RFK Jr. has implicated), were central to the plot. And yet both Presidents Trump and Biden defied the 1992 JFK Records Collection Act, which mandated that all relevant Kennedy administration documents be released by 2017. (Among the 4,000 government documents still withheld are the travel records of CIA assassination chief William Harvey. Harvey, who was stationed in Rome at the time, was spotted by his deputy on a plane to Dallas before JFK was killed there. Not surprisingly, my lawsuit against the CIA, to obtain the sealed records, was unsuccessful.) On the 60th anniversary of JFK’s assassination, RFK Jr. circulated a public petition to release all the remaining records — in full and unredacted. “Trump refused to do it. Biden refused to do it,” he stated in the petition. “What is so embarrassing that they're afraid to show the American public 60 years later?”
It's true that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has never held elected office and, as an independent, wouldn’t enjoy the institutional support of the Democratic and Republican parties. And, yet, in our increasingly polarized country, these do not seem like negatives. America is broken, fragmented. Our empire is falling. There is something very appealing about a deeply knowledgeable outsider. Voters are clearly repelled by the dismal prospect of a Biden and Trump rematch, with both leading candidates viewed unfavorably by well over 50 percent of voters, while Kennedy’s popularity continues to soar.
RFK Jr. says he wants to bring together our divided country. “What do you love about this country?” he asks voters at red-state and blue-state rallies. He says their answers are remarkably the same.
In his Thanksgiving video last week, Kennedy was equally upbeat. He talked about how he outgrew the compulsion to complain in his youth. He spoke about the simple things in life that give him joy. He said he’s grateful for the glass on his car’s windshield so his face is not splattered with bugs; he enjoys his morning glass of orange juice; and antibiotics have saved his life on two occasions.
“No one ever got to their deathbed and said to themselves, ‘I should have spent more time worrying. I should have spent more time complaining.’ That has never happened.”
RFK Jr. has suffered much in his life. You can see it in his face, in his eyes, in his raspy voice. But he still takes delight in it.
So should we as we spread his message.
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