Putting Politics Aside – We have a Republic to Save


How RFK Jr. Changed the Contours of the 2024 Election – Again

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His choice for running mate answers many a question.

In the full year since he first emerged onto the national stage as the biggest political wildcard since Ross Perot, it was first assumed that Robert F Kennedy Jr. was likely to draw votes away from Joe Biden in the Democratic primary and weaken the incumbent for the fall campaign. But after RFK Jr. switched from Democrat to independent, the contours of the race changed, based on the notion that he might draw votes from both major party candidates in November, perhaps in equal measure. Then came the late March announcement of Kennedy’s running mate – and suddenly, everything changed again.

Kennedy had an open, unlimited field of known and unknowns from which to select his vice presidential choice. As an independent candidate without a party structure to involve itself in the selection, he was free to head in any number of possible directions. For example, he could have chosen another relatively centrist – and attractive – Democratic defector in Tulsi Gabbard. He could have gone the route of the No Labels party and picked someone identified with the middle, in the image of a Joe Manchin. Or he could have decided on celebrity for celebrity’s sake and chosen New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers, whose name was floated likely for the sole purpose of its shock value. Any of those choices would undoubtedly be somewhat attractive to skeptical, non-ideological voters seeking an alternative to Trump and Biden.

Instead, the 70-year-old son of the martyred senator and scion of the nation’s most famed political family did something few had expected. He tacked heavily left and selected a woman who not only is virtually unknown but has unambiguously identified herself as a committed leftist. One could hardly be more clear than calling yourself, as Nicole Shanahan has, a “progressive through and through.” Shanahan was familiar to those in the jet-set world of Silicon Valley, to be sure – but not to anyone else. All you need know is that she donated $700,000 to support Measure J, a post-George Floyd Los Angeles County criminal justice initiative that defunded law enforcement and diverted local revenue to “alternatives to incarceration,” as per the New York Post. She also gave $150,000 to support the infamous George Gascón’s 2020 bid for Los Angeles district attorney and contributed $25,000 to Joe Biden’s 2020 victory fund.

But the most revealing contribution by Ms. Shanahan was $4 million to the RFK Jr. SuperPac. Is her selection all about money? Is the VP slot a reward for the millions she has already donated, or more about the promise of much more to come from Shanahan, ex-wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, whose net worth is an estimated $95 billion? And if this decision is only about the Benjamins, what does it say to voters about Kennedy’s priorities and financial capacity to run a competitive campaign? He knows he is not going to win the presidency – his support has crested at roughly 15% in recent polls – so the vice presidential choice is about as big a statement as an independent candidate can make. And this one was, if not big, certainly clarifying.

Consequently, Democrats are freaking out now that, in the opinion of most though not all professional Democrats, RFK Jr. will almost certainly draw more votes from Biden than from Trump. In 2016 and 2020, less than 50,000 votes in three states swung the election, so Kennedy pulling even five percent of the vote – assuming he gets on enough states’ ballots – could well be decisive one way or another. Even as his name has been synonymous with Democratic politics over decades, talk of Kennedy being a plant or stalking horse for Trump has risen to just beneath the surface in leftist circles. Seriously.*****

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