OPINION: Invoking Cthulhu, RFK Jr. asks Nevada: Why vote for a lesser evil?
Last week, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. spoke to a crowd in Las Vegas as part of his chicanerous Democratic-turned-independent presidential campaign. During his stump speech, he made his pitch: “Don’t you think that Americans deserve something better than the lesser of two evils?”
Well, perhaps, depending on how he meant it.
If Kennedy is pitching himself as the real-life embodiment of the satirical Cthulhu for America campaign (Why settle for a lesser evil when there’s a better, greater evil waiting to devour us all?), he might be onto something. Were it not for his family name, along with the connections and money that flow through it, he’d just be another anonymous member of the ever-present “lizardman constant” that spreads conspiratorial nonsense to gain undeserved status and notoriety.
If Kennedy sincerely believes he’s a lesser evil than either Joe Biden or Donald Trump — yes, even Trump — then his delusions are truly limitless.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the appeal of supporting an independent or “third party” presidential candidate, especially when they possess enough notoriety to make a protest vote mean something.
In 1992, my school hosted a presidential debate. Each of the three major candidates for president that year — Republican George H. W. Bush, Democrat Bill Clinton and independent Ross Perot — were represented by five students. I volunteered to help represent Perot.
Ross Perot, incidentally, won my middle school in a landslide.
In 1998, I registered to vote as a Libertarian, a partisan registration I kept through my adult life until I grew tired of struggling against the pseudointellectual edgelords who gained control of the party during and following the pandemic. Since I first registered to vote over 25 years ago, I have voted for a major party presidential candidate exactly twice — once in 2008 (for John McCain) and once in 2020 (for Joe Biden). In every other presidential election, I proudly didn’t vote for a Republican or Democratic presidential candidate.
Point being, I appreciate the psychology behind voting for a minor party or independent presidential candidate better than most.
When the options foisted on the public by the two largest political parties are clearly unacceptable, as they frankly are today, it makes sense to cast a protest vote. Doing so records a small but measurable voice against the organizations and decisions that led to the choices on our ballots as well as a call for better choices in the future.
That said, the point of a protest vote is to actually select someone better, at least in some respect, even if they’re likely not going to win.
Sure, a protest candidate might not be as polished or, more often than not, as qualified as the major party candidates selected by most American voters. They should, however, still provide some improvement over what’s offered by the two major parties. Gary Johnson, for all his verbal foibles and dorky silliness, was still a former governor without the baggage Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump brought to the 2016 election. Despite running as a Libertarian, he was arguably the most normal presidential candidate on the ballot that year.
A vote for Gary Johnson in 2016, then, was a vote against the collective foolishness of the two major parties that independently selected a pair of racist birthers (Clinton’s 2008 campaign ran with the idea that Barrack Obama was not actually born in the United States before Trump ever did) to lead their tickets.
This brings me to Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has exactly one redeeming feature: He’s not Donald Trump and he’s not Joe Biden.
Unless you’re a former or current president, this is a feature likely shared by you, me and the overwhelming majority of the remainder of humanity. It, by itself, is not a sufficient qualification to earn a vote for president.
Let’s start with age. Biden is 81 years old. Trump will be 78 years old by Election Day. The life expectancy in the United States is currently 77 years, 6 months. Both candidates are therefore living on borrowed time.
Is Kennedy younger than the two of them?
Sure — but he’s still older than 70. Ronald Reagan was only 69 when he was first elected president and arguably showed symptoms of Alzheimer’s before he left the White House. If youth is the issue, perhaps we should cast a protest vote for someone who wouldn’t be on the wrong side of that barrier by the end of their hypothetical second term.
This, by the way, rules out Cornel West, too. He turned 70 last June.
Perhaps you believe age is just a number. Modern medical science has come a long way, after all, and an older candidate is more likely to have the life experience required to place our nation’s challenges in historical context. Why shouldn’t the most qualified person to run this country be someone who’s been old enough to qualify for Medicare and Social Security for several years?
Fair enough. Let’s look at Kennedy on the issues, then.
People are justifiably concerned about Trump’s call to be a dictator for a day, along with his supporters’ plans to remake the federal government in their image by firing thousands of administrators and replacing them with Trump loyalists. This concern isn't misplaced — a president is supposed to be an elected official with constitutionally limited powers, not a term-limited absolute monarch.
Many people are also concerned about Trump’s continued unwillingness to accept the results of the 2020 election. He is, in fact, currently facing charges for plotting to overturn the results of the election — his argument that presidents should be categorically immune from prosecution for any criminal acts committed while in office was recently rejected by a federal appeals panel.
Kennedy, by contrast, claimed the 2004 election was stolen. No, not the 2000 election, which ultimately ended in the Brooks Brothers riot and a controversial Supreme Court decision — the 2004 election, which George W. Bush undeniably won fair and square. When asked about the 2020 race, meanwhile, he said, “I don’t know. I think that Biden won.”
Yes, Kennedy thinks, though it would arguably be better for everyone if he stopped.
He thinks chemicals in the water are turning children gay or transgender.
He thinks COVID-19 may have been “ethnically targeted” to spare Jews and Chinese people, though he later clarified that this may have been done accidentally(?).
He thinks Prozac causes mass shooters — never mind that his father and uncle were assassinated decades before Prozac was approved for sale in 1987. Speaking of his uncle’s assassination, Kennedy thinks the CIA, not Lee Harvey Oswald, did the deed.
He thinks there’s no such thing as a safe and effective vaccine. He also thinks vaccines caused the 1918 influenza epidemic, HIV and, of course, autism. Additionally, he once claimed vaccine deniers have it worse than Jews during the Holocaust because, and I quote:
“Even in Hitler’s Germany, you could cross the Alps into Switzerland, you could hide in an attic like Anne Frank did.”
One of the biggest accomplishments of the Trump administration, by contrast, was Operation Warp Speed, which cleared unnecessary regulatory hurdles and made it possible for this country to rapidly develop and distribute the first COVID vaccines. It’s truly a shame Trump is now running against that.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is, in short, a dangerous and paranoid crank. Unfortunately, he’s a dangerous, paranoid crank with decades of media experience and a familiar name. If Nevadans truly want to vote for a lesser evil, we’d be better served by voting for Joe Biden — or, yes, even Donald Trump.
David Colborne ran for public office twice. He is now an IT manager, the father of two sons, and a weekly opinion columnist for The Nevada Independent. You can follow him on Mastodon @[email protected], on Bluesky @davidcolborne.bsky.social, on Threads @davidcolbornenv or email him at [email protected].