Challengers to an incumbent President from his own party or third parties have never been successful in America. Eugene McCarthy failed to unseat LBJ in 1968, Reagan lost his first Presidential bid against Gerald Ford in 1976, Edward Kennedy fell short against Jimmy Carter in 1980, and Pat Buchanan and Ross Perot both fizzled in the 1992 Presidential contest. Now we have another Kennedy, Robert F. Jr., challenging Biden for the Democratic nomination in 2024. In truth, he has a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the party’s nomination, even with one of the most famous surnames in American politics.
RFK Jr. is a man of contradictions. He has amassed a long, impressive record of environmental activism. No one can deny the outstanding work of the Pace University School of Law Environment Litigation Clinic and the Waterkeeper Alliance. He and his legal partners have successfully sued Monsanto, ConocoPhillips, the Department of Defense and many other environmental polluters. He is also a staunch defender of freedom of speech and lifting up the middle class. Yet his record is marred by questionable, controversial positions on myriad issues.
Number one is his stance on vaccinations. He contends, against the overwhelming preponderance of scientific evidence, that vaccines are responsible for the skyrocketing rates of autism in children over the past several decades. In 2020, the CDC released an update on autism prevalence showing that one in 36 or 2.7% of eight-year-olds are now diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder. Various theories have been proposed for this spike, including genetics, age of the parents and environmental factors, but none have been proven conclusively. So RFK makes the classic error of confusing correlation with causation. He focuses on thimerosal, a mercury-based compound used as a preservative in vaccines, but thimerosal was removed from all childhood vaccines except some flu shots by 2001 as a precautionary measure, even though the WHO, FDA and CDC all deemed it harmless.