Kennedy’s Presidential Bid, One Year On

Kennedy’s Presidential Bid, One Year On
American Values 2024 | April 19, 2024

By Melissa Orrison, The Kennedy Beacon

On April 19, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts, RFK Jr.

Addressing a packed room of some 500 supporters at the Park Plaza Hotel, Kennedy said, “My mission over the next 18 months of this campaign and during my presidency will be to end the corrupt merger of state and corporate power that is threatening now to impose a new kind of corporate feudalism in our country; to commoditize our children, our purple mountains majesty; to poison our children and our people with chemicals and pharmaceutical drugs; to strip mine our assets and hollow out the middle class and keep us in a constant state of war.”

He referenced the growing divide created by the media and the two-party political system, and said he hoped to heal that divide by “encouraging people to talk about the values that we have in common rather than the issues that keep us apart.” He continued, “I’m going to do that by telling the truth to the American people.”

Now, one year later, he is running an independent campaign that has the Democratic party running scared. When he announced he was leaving the Democratic Party to run as an independent, on Oct 9, 2023, Kennedy said, “The Democrats are frightened that I’m gonna spoil the election for President Biden. And the Republicans are frightened that I’m gonna spoil it for President Trump. The truth is, they’re both right. My intention is to spoil it for both of them.”

Although he was a lifelong Democrat, Kennedy realized the party has changed dramatically since his uncle was in office, and he announced his independence in a speech that marked a pivotal moment for his campaign and for the American people. In the face of a party that was (and still is) going to great lengths to thwart democracy, Kennedy saw the switch as the best way to break the nation’s polarization. . “Americans are weary, they’re tired of the culture war,” he said. “Getting us to hate each other” is what the Democratic party wants.

Moving to the independent column freed Kennedy from the obstacles imposed by the Democratic party machinery, but created new obstacles, such as gaining ballot access in all 50 states. As soon as he declared his independence, Kennedy and his team hit the ground running to work on ballot access, which has different requirements and deadlines for petitions in each state.

As of April 2024, petitioning (and signature gathering) for ballot access is complete in Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Nebraska, Iowa, North Carolina, and New Hampshire – and he has officially gained ballot access in Utah and Michigan. Petitioning is underway in all other states, apart from those in which the window to collect signatures has not yet opened: Washington, Colorado, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Tennessee, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

In another move, crucial to the success of his campaign, Kennedy’s announcement of Nicole Shanahan as his running mate brought new potential to the goals he set forth early on. Shanahan, also a lawyer, has focused on Big Tech, which brings balance and contrast to Kennedy’s environmental experience.

At age 38, Shanahan also helps deepen the team’s connection with younger voters; Kennedy has consistently polled well with voters 45 and under.

Shanahan shares Kennedy’s passion for issues such as chronic disease, health, and concerns over vaccine safety and toxic chemicals in food. As a mother of a child with an autism diagnosis, she has a unique appeal to families who question the limits of conventional medical practices.

Shanahan’s upbringing in a poor family also contrasts Kennedy’s privileged upbringing, adding her own perspective to his concerns about rising costs of housing, groceries, and medical care. Kennedy has frequently discussed the attack on the middle class in America, which culminated in the COVID-19 lockdowns. He laments that home ownership is out of reach for young people and has proposed a plan to introduce 3% mortgage rates for first-time homebuyers through US government bonds.

The past year on the campaign trail hasn’t been easy for Kennedy. He has been repeatedly denied Secret Service protection, and the mainstream media coverage has ranged from misrepresentation to outright slander. Yet, he has kept his promise to tell the truth to the American people, even when it is unpopular, saying he could make the argument that President Biden is a “much worse threat to Democracy” than Donald Trump, given Biden’s attack on the First Amendment.

As an independent, Kennedy continues to gain ballot access in more states and consistently takes the high road when confronted with negative press and DNC-aligned hit pieces.

Together, Kennedy and Shanahan portray the diversity that defines America, and offer more than just a viable alternative to the two-party system, by presenting voters with a new and way forward.

Melissa Orrison is a journalist who co-presented “The Kennedy Tragedies Through a Risk Management Lens,” at In2Risk 2022 in San Francisco, California. She has also worked in higher education and tourism. She lives in Georgia with her husband and son.

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