June 22, 2024

In the immortal 1984 film “Ghostbusters,” the supernatural villain Gozer calls out for the heroes of the piece to choose the form of their doom:

Sub-creatures! Gozer the Gozerian, Gozer the Destructor, Volguus Zildrohar, the Traveller has come! Choose and perish!

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Now, anticipating an election to take place 40 years after that film, both Democrats and Republicans may well have chosen the form of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as Gozer the Destructor, as that gentleman is expected to announce his third-party Presidential run in Philadelphia on Monday (October 9th). The Hill’s Douglas MacKinnon has some interesting observations, even if I don’t necessarily agree with him.

There is a political buzz building that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is about to announce that he will run for president as a third-party candidate. Should that come to be, it will shake the pillars of the political world. 

In anticipation of that announcement, some Democrats and some in the media have donned their Chicken Little costumes, running around telling anyone who will listen that “The sky will fall for Biden and the Democrats if RFK Jr. runs third party! The sky will fall!”

The sky may indeed continue to fall for President Biden, but it won’t be because of Kennedy. It will be because — as the latest Washington Post poll showing former President Trump with a nine-point lead indicates — a majority of the country seems to be moving on from him.

It’s also becoming increasingly obvious that the sky may be falling for old Joe Biden, not because of Mr. Kennedy’s candidacy but because of his own accelerating mental and physical decrepitude, as well as the manifest corruption and incompetence of his administration. Recent polling numbers bear that assessment out. But Mr. MacKinnon isn’t done yet:

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If anything, there is a very strong case to be made that a Kennedy independent run would ultimately pull more votes from Trump than Biden. A recent piece in Newsweek quotes Turning Point USA Founder Charlie Kirk suggesting that the reports about panic from Democrats over an independent Kennedy run are a “strategy” to conceal the threat that Kennedy would pose to the Republican Party. “Far more of the ‘I don’t trust the government’ brigade would vote for RFK Jr. if he were run as a Libertarian,” stressed Kirk.

I’m skeptical about this, for a couple of reasons.  

Kennedy’s stated political opinions seem to straddle both sides – his background as an “environmental lawyer” may cost him some GOP support. He is pro-same-sex marriage, but against the COVID panics; on the Second Amendment, his statement is that “he believes in gun control,” but that the Supreme Court has (presumably in the Bruen decision) decided the issue of keeping and bearing arms. There are positions in his portfolio that will appall and appeal to both sides.

But then there’s this consideration:

The latest Gallup poll shows support for a third major party is at an all-time high of 63 percent. Additionally, 75 percent of independents want a third party. And, for the first time in polling history, a majority of Republicans — at 58 percent — want a third-party option.

The needle is moving away from the establishment elites, and Kennedy may be the main beneficiary. Why? 

As reported in recent Reuters/Ipsos polling, RFK Jr. has a much higher favorability ratings than either Trump or Biden, with 51 percent of respondents having a positive view of him compared to 45 percent for Biden and 40 percent for Trump. The more people hear him — despite much of the mainstream media censoring his voice and vision — the more they seem to like him and identify with his message.

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If Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has an advantage, one that may make him a major spoiler, it is this: At the moment, he commands a big advantage in favorability ratings. 

But bear in mind, it’s awfully early in the game, and we haven’t heard all that much from him yet, compared to the other major candidates. In other words, while everyone knows where Mr. Kennedy springs from, too many people do not as yet really know who he is. On the other hand, we certainly do know who Donald Trump is, as he’s spent a great deal of time telling us, and in the Republican primary debates, we’ve been learning quite a bit about the GOP’s other contenders. And the one other fly in the ointment is that Joe Biden almost certainly won’t be the Democrat’s candidate; at this juncture who that candidate might be is anyone’s guess. 

And there’s one more consideration: Rumor has it that Mr. Kennedy will be seeking the Libertarian nomination, and (big-L) Libertarian candidates have historically done poorly in Presidential contests — that being, speaking as a (small-L) libertarian myself, because they tend to choose candidates poorly.

Obligatory qualifier: While this is all very interesting speculation, at this point it’s important to remember that speculation is all it is. Not one primary vote has yet been cast. Not one party, major or minor, has chosen a candidate. We have an incumbent President (so far) running against a former President who is trying to pull a Grover Cleveland. Both of them are well up in years; both of them have significant liabilities, and only one of them seems to have the ability to draw crowds

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We’re in political terra incognita, and our speculation today may prove to have been laughably inaccurate six months from now.

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