Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s presidential campaign announcement speech on Wednesday included much that advocates of limiting the power of the United Sates government can cheer, including strong criticism of the US government’s crackdown in the name of countering coronavirus and of the series of wars in which the US government has engaged from Vietnam to Ukraine. We’ll be watching and listening as Kennedy in the coming months expands on this criticism and discusses his promised different approach.
Early in his speech and immediately following announcing that he had decided to seek the Democratic Party presidential nomination, Kennedy stated what will be the focus of his campaign and, should he win the election, his presidency. Declared Kennedy: “My mission over the next 18 months of this campaign and throughout 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, to hollow out the middle class, and keep us in a constant state of war.”
Coming back to this theme later in his speech, Kennedy stated:
All I am saying is you need a president at this time in history who can stand up to his bureaucracy. The bureaucracies are owned by the industries. I’m talking about, you know, NIH and EPA and CDC and FDA and DoT. That train track wreck would not have happened in East Palestine except we have a captive agency at DoT. Our food is terrible because the food companies and the pesticide companies own USDA. We’re in constant wars because the military-industrial complex, the big contractors, own CIA.
Kennedy proceeded to note that he believes most people at the CIA are “patriots” and “good public servants” with “enormous courage and idealism.” That, continued Kennedy, “is the same with most our agencies.” But, he explained, “the problem is the people who end up rising in those agencies generally are people who are in the tank with industry, and that’s how they get corrupted.”
As you watch Kennedy’s presidential campaign proceed, keep these comments from his campaign announcement speech in mind. They will likely be important for well understanding his future comments and proposals.
Kennedy’s ability to gain support in the race may end up largely dependent on his ability to bring along voters to understand and agree with both his take on the “corrupt merger of state and corporate power” and his pitch that as president he would successfully counter that problem.