The Cocktail Party Contrarian: RFK Jr. Tells Voters They Aren’t Crazy, and They Seem To Be Listening

Can the Democrat cure the country just by telling the truth? On issue after issue, he exposes the manipulation tactics of the political and corporate classes.

AP/Hans Pennink, file
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks at the New York state capitol in 2019. AP/Hans Pennink, file

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s candidacy for president has piqued the interest of weary Democrats and Republicans alike, voters whose sanity has been tested by the American political system over the last few years. He is emerging as the one-man team of Austrian psychiatrists that Americans of both political parties so desperately need to reassure them that, no, they aren’t crazy. On issue after issue, he exposes the manipulation tactics of the political and corporate classes, as they have tried to convince the country not to believe its lying eyes. 

Mr. Kennedy could be the great de-gaslighter-in-chief we need — and that may be the most important qualification for the job in 2024 to prevent the country from unraveling altogether.

From within his party, Mr. Kennedy is trying to wrest the label of “Democrat” back from the clutches of those who have twisted it into something deeply undemocratic. Of course, the establishment isn’t grateful for the course correction.

It is obvious, though, that registered Democrats are. Even with the entire Democratic Party and its media allies trying to pretend he isn’t running, RFK Jr. already is polling at 20 percent of the voters’ support. That number suggests that Democrats don’t want a healthy, younger version of their current president to push forward his agenda with more vigor. One in five voters have pounced on the idea of pursuing a different agenda altogether, and more are likely to join them. They feel gaslit by their leaders as much as Republicans do.

For conservatives who like President Trump’s policies but aren’t certain of his future, RFK Jr. could be an interesting Plan B. They don’t necessarily agree with all of Mr. Kennedy’s social policy positions, but there is a lot about his platform that appeals. His priority list reflects many of the concerns they had hoped the Republican Party would attend to, but largely hasn’t — outsize corporate power in government, endless foreign wars, the destruction of the middle class, the erosion of free speech and religious liberty, the assault on the free-market economy, and the harmful effects of globalization.

RFK Jr. seems to understand that we are on the verge of a collective nervous breakdown, if we aren’t already in its throes. The crazy-making twisting of the truth that politicians and activists have been trafficking in has obliterated societal stability, and those who have bravely pointed it out were themselves called out for noticing. Mr. Kennedy doesn’t think it is the patient who has lost his mind.

Appearing on Glenn Greenwald’s June 13 podcast, Mr. Kennedy addressed the handling of American Covid policy. He decried what he termed the pharmaceutical industry’s dishonesty about the vaccines and described the lockdowns as both a devastating public health decision and an unprecedented attack on American civil liberties. That conversation quickly transitioned into talk of widespread government-sponsored censorship, which he personally experienced.

So profound have the effects of all of these issues been on Americans and American life that it is stunning to note that our president has hardly spoken about them at all. When he does, it is to shame us out of believing that they are anything more than conspiracy theories planted in our brains by the Russians or those nefarious MAGA Republicans. It is enough to drive an honest citizen mad.

RFK Jr.’s insistence on an accounting of it all is a kind of therapy for the millions of Americans of all political persuasions who know that terrible things just happened in their country, but can’t get their leadership to discuss it, let alone prevent it from happening again. 

Another of Mr. Kennedy’s top priorities is ending the war in Ukraine. He offers a detailed explanation of his view and an assessment of future risks associated with America’s continued involvement. As he does this, he exposes by contrast both the Democrats’ and Republicans’ astonishing lack of respect for their voters, who are expected to dutifully accept a war policy justified with nothing more than slogans about “defending democracy,” on pain of being labeled Russian sympathizers. 

Those who have been silently asking themselves why their government was no longer obligated to explain to them exactly how billions of their dollars were being spent have found in RFK Jr. the therapist they have been looking for. He sees their ailment, confirms it is real, and can identify its source.

One of Mr. Kennedy’s best moments was his live appearance, with video camera in hand, at the southern border. With lines of illegal aliens streaming into the country behind him as he spoke to the American people, he did two important things to free us from the psychological mind games Secretary Mayorkas has been playing.

First, he rejoined the other half of the country in reality. He acknowledged the truth that everyone already knew, and that was denied almost daily in the White House Briefing Room: We have open borders. It was a healing moment. Second, he reminded Democrats, and all Americans, that countries do have borders, and to say so is not to renounce your credentials as a liberal or expose yourself as a racist. Bravo.

Nothing secured Mr. Kennedy’s place in the political arena as the great gaslighting extinguisher more than his comments on the issue of the environment during a June 5 episode of the Jordan B. Peterson Podcast. The candidate for president, having spent his career as an environmental advocate who has studied the issues carefully, believes that there is a climate crisis. 

His solutions, though, don’t obsessively focus on carbon capture or interference in the free market via government subsidies for renewables — two current policy obsessions that produce considerable power and profit for a select group of people, and turn off millions of others to the entire conversation. Mr. Kennedy spoke for many in the silent majority when he said, “The issue is being used as a pretext for clamping down totalitarian controls, the same way that the Covid crisis was.” 

This isn’t the politician who tells his constituents to mind their emissions while jetting off to Davos. “The reason that I became an environmentalist,” he told Mr. Peterson, “was not because I was scared of something — you know, scared of the end of the world — it was because I was in love with the creeks and climbing the trees to get a baby crow when I was a kid, and training hawks, and doing white water kayaking. … That’s why I fell in love with the environment — it was out of love, it was not out of fear.”

His prescriptions for addressing climate challenges clearly emerge from that love. He raises issues we never hear about in the public debate — habitat preservation, agricultural regeneration, fisheries. He sounds like a man who actually spends time outside, and likes nature, not someone looking to exploit it for personal gain.

When he says that he understands why some would be skeptical of “the science” after the betrayals of public health officials during the Covid years, he humanizes everyone who knew that their gas stoves weren’t going to destroy the planet, but were made to feel like Neanderthals when they rolled their eyes. Importantly, in acknowledging reality about the way the environment has been discussed in our country, he opens the previously closed ears of millions of people to conversations about the climate that they weren’t willing to have when only the alarmists and grifters were doing the talking. 

Mr. Kennedy is off to a good start. There is more he needs to do — like exposing the charade of “equity” and speaking with clarity about the weaponization of the justice system in America for political purposes. The maddening effects of these issues are truly dangerous for the country. 

I think we are all ready for a major mental health moment in 2024. It starts with an end to the gaslighting that has driven so many of us so crazy, and made a few of us so powerful.


The New York Sun

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