In a recent opinion article, political and communications consultant Douglas MacKinnon highlights the intense scrutiny and vilification that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. faces from left-of-center mainstream media.
Writing for The Hill, MacKinnon claims this hostile treatment is often more vehement than the criticism directed at former President Donald Trump. MacKinnon identifies three main reasons for this targeted hostility.
Firstly, Kennedy was long considered a member of the liberal Democratic community due to his environmental work and his book “Crimes Against Nature,” which criticized George W. Bush. However, his diverging opinions have led to rejection from the left, showing that straying from the accepted narrative results in hostility.
Secondly, Kennedy’s departure from the mainstream COVID-19 policies and vaccine narrative has drawn intense criticism. He questioned lockdowns, school closures, mask mandates, and vaccine efficacy. His defense of individuals who refused vaccines further fueled this backlash.
Kennedy’s book, “The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health,” pushed him further into controversy. The book’s success and his arguments against COVID policies linked him with Republican and vaccine-skeptic groups, resulting in an attempt to silence him.
Lastly, Kennedy’s outspokenness may have implications for President Biden. Kennedy’s views could potentially weaken Biden’s stance, making him a target for criticism by liberal elites who want to protect Biden’s image.
Despite Kennedy’s background in Democratic circles and his family name, his differing opinions have led to his vilification by parts of the left. MacKinnon says the refusal of many to engage in open debates on his views further emphasizes this trend.
Or could it be that Kennedy is simply not up to the job?
Is He Running for the Wrong Party?
Kennedy’s campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination appears to face challenges due to his unique combination of views and his political background. Despite running as a Democrat, his favorability ratings are notably higher among Republicans.
Nathaniel Rakich, senior elections analyst at FiveThirtyEight, has even suggested that the Democrat would be better off running as a Republican.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has even hinted at the possibility of nominating Kennedy for key positions in his administration if he were to win the presidency.
However, Rakich highlights how Kennedy’s campaign has encountered significant contradictions. While he comes from a prominent Democratic political family and holds some liberal viewpoints, such as supporting abortion rights, he is also known for his criticism of the Covid vaccine.
This has led to a division in his popularity, where he is embraced by conservative thought leaders but is met with skepticism and opposition from within the Democratic Party.
Rakich also points towards the fact that in July Kennedy’s favorability net favorability rating was generally higher among Republicans than among Democrats.
Could the Democrat veteran be more appealing to Republicans than to members of his own party?
Kennedy’s net favorability among Democrats has also been decreasing in recent polls, indicating that Democratic voters are becoming less supportive of him after a promising start. This decline in favorability among his own party may be attributed to increased media coverage that has exposed more voters to his views and garnered negative press attention.
Despite holding steady support around 15 percent in national polling averages throughout the year, Kennedy faces an uphill battle in the Democratic primary. If he aims to improve his chances of winning the nomination, he would need to appeal to Democratic voters, whose ambivalence towards him and the negative trend in favorability ratings indicate a challenging path forward.
Now, or in the future, Kennedy may need to consider changing parties if he is truly serious about his presidential ambitions.
Georgia Gilholy is a journalist based in the United Kingdom who has been published in Newsweek, The Times of Israel, and the Spectator. Gilholy writes about international politics, culture, and education.
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