It was my pleasure to attend the enormous gathering in Boston in which Robert Kennedy, Jr., announced his candidacy for president, thus challenging Biden in the primaries. He is already polling at 14 percent among voters who supported Biden in 2020. There seems to be real potential here for something dramatic.
The major media reaction to the announcement was of course to trash him, forever describing him as nothing but an anti-vaxxer, which is a way of dismissing everything about him. One suspects that he won’t be so easily swept aside with epithets. It didn’t work when they tried this with Trump and it might not work this time either.
What I heard and experienced, instead, was an intelligent, sweeping, clear-headed, passionate, and moving political speech that electrified the several thousand people gathered there.
He spoke for 90 minutes without a note or a teleprompter. It was entirely extemporaneous, and he covered four main areas for focus: the environment, public health, lockdowns, and the war in Ukraine. He never mentioned vaccines by name but did talk about the crisis of chronic disease in this country and the political power of the pharmaceutical industry.
I’m quite certain that I’ve never heard a more erudite speech in any political context. He was supremely confident on stage, and his command of fact, history, and issues put everyone at ease. He made it clear from the beginning that his motivation was simply truth-telling in an age of nonstop lies by media and government.
His main target was the corrupt relationship between large corporations and captured administrative bureaucracies. He has spent his career battling such corruption in the realm of environmental regulation and wants to use his knowledge and experience to expand that battle to the whole of the administrative state. In what might have been the biggest applause line of the night, he said as president he would never be muscled or manipulated by any bureaucrat or lobbyist.
The tone and the ethos in the room was established long before the curtains opened by the musical choice of the organizer. It was a brass band performing American classics with outstanding arrangements. It was beautiful and inspiring. And I couldn’t help but think of the contrast with politics as usual with blaring rock and country music. And the band fired up again at the end of his speech with “Stars and Stripes Forever” by John Philip Sousa. The entire ethos was about recalling who we are.
Indeed, I would estimate that perhaps one-third of his speech was spent talking about American history. He retold the story of Paul Revere and his midnight ride to warn colonists about the coming of British soldiers. He provided an outstanding overview of the Boston Tea Party and how it was a protest against a corrupt insider deal between the British Crown and the East India Tea company, an early example of government/business partnership. He spoke about President Eisenhower’s farewell address on the military/industrial complex. And he reviewed his uncle’s handling of the Bay of Pigs crisis and how John F. Kennedy rejected the advice of CIA-controlled advisers. Finally, a long story about the death of his father Robert and the funeral procession brought tears to the eyes of people there.
As I listened to this history, I had a sudden realization. This deep and inspiring history of our country has been buried to us by having been taken out of the curriculum in school and otherwise blotted out by media and internet frenzy. This generation has been robbed of this historical understanding. RFK is determined to bring it back so that we can root ourselves in an understanding of what this country is all about. A people who have a historical understanding of the nation’s history is far less easy to manipulate.
Despite the fire and passion of this speech, his campaign looks to be among the least demagogic than we’ve heard in years. He pointed out that politicians can always gain support by tapping into fear, anger, and hate but that he was much more interested in focusing on themes that unite us as Americans. “Heal the Divide” read many signs. He certainly doesn’t seem to be interested in pandering.
On the issues, he began with environmentalism but in a special way. He said that it was about clean air and water to better serve the human population without despoiling the commons. This is a much older understanding of this topic that traces to Teddy Roosevelt. There is no contradiction between a respect for the environment and free-market capitalism, he said. The problem we face is one of cronyism and corruption. “Good environmental policy—100 percent of the time—is identical to good economic policy,” he said.
The words “climate change” were not in the speech. Nor did he rail against fossil fuels, much less call for an end to oil and gas. There is no mention of it on his campaign website either, and surely that’s intentional.
To be sure, he has been on record in being among the climate-change alarmists in even recent history. Have his views on this topic shifted in light of the fake COVID science of the last three years and the lockdown experience? Perhaps so. Many people on the left have begun to rethink this topic and perhaps RFK is among them. He certainly seems to have zero interest in anything like a “great reset” and he is not a member of the World Economic Forum.
Next he took on the topic of public health with a particular focus on the real epidemic in this country, which is not about infectious disease but rather chronic diseases including obesity. When have you ever heard a politician raise that subject? He spoke about ill-health among young people and the rise of ADHD and autism, which is not being fixed but rather exacerbated by the pharmaceutical industry. This country spends more per capita on health care with worse results than any country in the world. The entire system cries out for dramatic reform.
His next area was the most satisfying to me personally. He broke the public silence on the critical issue of COVID lockdowns. He chronicled the astonishing expense for which we gained nothing, and blasted companies like Amazon that censored contrary views while driving the competition out of business. He spoke with fire about the shutting down of small business and the violation of people’s property rights and religious liberties and illustrated a profound command of the facts, being how the lockdowns created an even worst public-health crisis.
He connected the lockdowns to the grim policies of the Federal Reserve that have resulted in a disastrous inflation, which he said amounts to a war on the middle class and the poor. I’ve been writing about this for three years so you can imagine how satisfying it was for me to finally see a major political figure explain the relationship between COVID lockdowns and the current economic crisis.
He very bluntly pointed out something that is widely ignored by all major media and both parties, namely that the lockdowns began under the Trump administration. Yes, Trump got terrible advice but that’s no excuse. Presidents often get terrible advice but it is their job to see through it and defend the Constitution. “The buck stops here,” Harry Truman said. Trump needs to speak openly about this topic, which he has so far refused to do.
Finally, he called for a national conversation about this proxy war that is developing with Russia. The first excuse for U.S. involvement was purely humanitarian but it is mutating into yet another disaster along lines of the Iraq war. He demanded an immediate end to U.S. funding and a push for a diplomatic solution before it is too late. He further called for closing military bases around the world and bringing the troops home, plus a revival of U.S. economic strength. In the course of this discussion, he explained with great competence the threat to the U.S. dollar from the recent moves by BRICS to abandon trade in the dollar.
No question that he is positioning himself as the peace candidate.
I’m sure that I have my differences with RFK on some issues and probably everyone there could say the same. But these are truly emergency times that call for courageous people to step up to save this country and rally around truths on which we can all agree.
Hardly anyone I know holds exactly the same political and ideological outlook today compared with five years ago. The reality of lockdowns and the tremendous social and cultural meltdown that has followed has shifted many perspectives. I could write an entire article on my own shifts. I had no idea, for example, of the raw political power of Big Tech and Big Pharma and what a massive threat it represents to rights, liberties, and constitutional government. And on these topics, RFK has a greater understanding than any public figure today.
There are obviously many details that need to be sorted out. Still, his entry into the race has the potential to be paradigm-shattering and provide real hope that there could be a way out of the disaster in which the nation finds itself today.
Come to think of it, I think I’ll take a break from writing for today and listen to some marches by John Philip Sousa!
Jeffrey A. Tucker is Founder and President of the Brownstone Institute and the author of many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press and ten books in 5 languages, most recently Liberty or Lockdown.