Tony D. Senatore
"I'm the spokesman for the OK Boomer generation

Why I am Voting for Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Three weeks ago, I posted a picture of myself wearing a Kennedy 2024 t-shirt while visiting the campus of my alma mater Columbia University. I shared the post on the university’s Facebook page, hoping to generate some insightful conversation, but the only response received was an unenthusiastic “meh” from a lone student. On my Facebook page, the response was similarly lackluster, except for a response from my oldest and best friend. He said he could not imagine why he, I, or anyone would vote for someone he thought was a “terribly flawed candidate caught up in a long list of reality distortions while pretending to have expertise that he does not have.” Still, he was willing to listen to my reasons. Before long, a few others asked me why RFK Jr appealed to me. Concerning all the Kennedy detractors, I wondered what research they did regarding his stances. I was positive they relied only on whatever they saw in their social media feeds. Initially, I was guilty of the same regarding RFK and wrote him off as a lunatic. On the other hand, once I took the time to find out what he stood for, I had a complete volte-face. As a result, I decided to explain why, despite being a registered Republican, I am voting for Robert F. Kennedy Jr if he is the Democratic nominee for President of the United States in the 2024 presidential election.

As I sat down to articulate what set RFK Jr from the other presidential candidates, I realized it would be difficult, but not for the reasons you might think, like writer’s block. My problem was that I had too many favorable things to say about him, most notably his disdain for the military-industrial complex and his anti-war stance. In case you have not noticed, none of the other candidates are talking about these two issues, which I find to be most critical for not only the prosperity of the American people but for the safety of the entire world. I decided to step away from my computer and take a drive to Woodstock to see a friend perform in a jazz trio setting. Since Woodstock was over one hundred miles away, I would have plenty of time to consolidate my thoughts. The music and the change of scenery were just what I needed for my mental well-being, but I was no closer to articulating my ideas than I was after the concert. As I turned on my radio to proceed on the long drive home, I got the lucky break, the eureka moment I was waiting for. I tuned into WNYC, which is 98.3 on the F.M. radio dial. I listened to the show entitled How to Cover a Candidate Like RFK Jr, hosted by Brandy Zadronzny and her guest Anna Merlan. This dynamic duo are self-professed experts in covering extremism and misinformation. I was immediately shocked at the hostile tone of their one-sided narrative and their ignorance that perhaps the views they peddle are misinformation and extremism to many, including me. On the other hand, they provided me with the blueprint I needed to convey what was happening in America and worldwide and why we needed to listen to what Robert F. Kennedy Jr and other world leaders like him had to say.

The idea of two “journalists” producing a news segment entitled How to Cover a Candidate Like RFK Jr, who could not find anything positive about Mr. Kennedy, is preposterous, maddening, and revealing. The job of any journalist should be to find truth wherever it resides, and that is how it used to be. In the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, Americans relied on a single 30-minute broadcast from icons like Walter Cronkite, who spoke with the authority of a religious leader or founding father and earned the public trust. Today, no matter the geographic location, trust in the media is at an all-time low because of journalists like Zadrozny and Merlan, who depict the new breed of activist/journalist beholden to the military-industrial complex. Too many in America rely on their smartphone newsfeed for information. One of my music business associates, a graduate of NYU and an attorney, told me that RFK Jr was an antisemite and a conspiracy theorist. Still, when I asked him to convey any information about Kennedy’s political stances, he could not, saying he was too busy to go to Kennedy’s website. He was, however, not too busy to order a Grey Goose dirty martini as he proceeded to furiously malign and slander Mr. Kennedy, and therein lies the problem.

During the radio broadcast, Zadrozny and Merlan discuss the pros and cons of covering political figures they categorize as “extremists” and “conspiracy theorists.” Zadrozny says many in her circles believe they should be ignored and they will “go away.” Merlan conveys the folly of this type of thinking and asserts, “It is not our job as journalists to ignore reality.” I would argue that it is not a journalist’s job to create one-sided news features that are essentially pure propaganda, published with bad intent and printed for the political betterment of their preferred political candidate as these two journalists have done regarding RFK Jr. Rather than ignore them, or speak candidly and honestly about the political positions they find favorable and unfavorable, journalists like Zadrozny, Merlan, and Liz Wolfe seek to hamstring, deplatform, and destroy anyone that does not conform to their liberal lunacy without deviation in any area. Moreover, they want to criticize them when they circumvent the mainstream media and can instead get their message out via individuals like Joe Rogan and Russell Brand, who they claim host “conspiracy theory friendly” podcasts. Wolfe asserted that Kennedy “portrays complex trends as simpler than they really are, with easily identifiable villains.” Of course, I could make the same claim about radical feminists who attribute the entirety of women’s problems to patriarchy and toxic masculinity, politicians who attribute Black Americans’ struggles solely to white privilege and systemic racism, and activists that blame problems of groups they believe to be oppressed on capitalism. Merlan lists a litany of grievances against RFK Jr that she considers misinformation peddling and extremism. First, she says he wants to seal the southern border permanently. In reality, he said he wanted to make the border “impervious” and stop the trend of releasing illegal aliens across the border. Kennedy went on to say that we need to recognize that what is happening at the border is a humanitarian crisis, and we needed to fix the policies that have caused this mass migration, including decades of U.S. foreign policy that have imposed austerity on those governments; neoliberal policies that have encouraged the rise of the junta military dictatorship that has trained and supported death squads in countries across Central America. Of course, Merlan left that out of her diatribe. Merlan says that Kennedy opposes trans-women competing in sports as if it is something she finds inconceivable and intolerable. Kennedy is not the only person that feels this way. Tennis legend and former icon of the feminist community Martina Navratilova was called “transphobic” for her opposition to biological males competing in women’s sports.

Moreover, the international track and field governing body, the World Athletics Council, announced it would bar transgender women athletes from elite competitions in women’s events. Of course, these revelations are a tremendous blow to the illiberal journalists that control the mainstream media. While they support diversity and regard it as their most sacred principle, they will never tolerate diversity of opinion.

Merlan asserts that Kennedy has an “incredibly combative and often litigious relationship with both mainstream media and mainstream systems of government.” I can not imagine any other kind of relationship when news organizations worldwide refer to him as a crackpot and conspiracy theorist.

All these issues notwithstanding, regarding misinformation and ignorance, journalists like Merlan and Zadronzny are just as guilty as the individuals they malign. Merlan argues that Kennedy is promoting a view that the war in Ukraine is fundamentally a proxy war, and this is just another one of his crackpot ideas; more dangerous misinformation spreading. Wikipedia defines a proxy war as an armed conflict between two states or non-state actors, one or both acting at the instigation or on behalf of other parties not directly involved in the hostilities. For a conflict to be considered a proxy war, there must be a direct, long-term relationship between external actors and the belligerents involved. The relationship above usually takes the form of funding, military training, arms, or other forms of material assistance which assist a belligerent party in sustaining its war effort. The definition confirms Kennedy’s view that the United States is in a proxy war with Russia. Perhaps a better way to frame the current War in Ukraine is not to discuss whether the United States is in a proxy war with Russia, because it is, but rather discuss the idea that proxy wars are sometimes necessary for the prosperity of a nation and the safety of the world. A corollary question is, was this proxy war with Russia necessary?

Like Mr. Kennedy, I believe this war was avoidable, but to come to that conclusion, you must put aside your belief that America is always righteous and infallible. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, it follows that NATO had accomplished its goal and no longer fulfilled its purpose and would be reduced if not dissolved. The contrary took place. Under the direction of the neoconservatives, NATO was upgraded and expanded. Post-Soviet Russia was increasingly encircled by NATO troops, and the U.S. attacked and waged war against multiple countries- Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Serbia, and Somalia. The United States also orchestrated coups (Ukraine, Egypt) and imposed economic sanctions and blockades against other countries (Iran) for little more reason than their unwillingness to take from the neocons in charge of American foreign policy. The European Left, which traditionally retains an anti-imperialist stance, not only did not resist but became willing accomplices in these imperialist endeavors. The current War in Ukraine is thirty years in the making, but journalists like Merlan and Zadrozny don’t want to discuss it. Their preferred action is hammering a We Stand With Ukraine sign on their front lawn and renouncing and destroying anyone that disagrees with U.S. intervention, maligning them as Putin apologists and enablers. The NATO scenario I discussed explains why Putin felt that war was the only option.

On the other hand, just because you understand the motivations behind someone’s actions and state them publicly does not mean you give your support. I agree with Kennedy when he asserts that he does not condone the invasion of Ukraine and does not support Putin in any way but understands his motivations. Unfortunately, these statements are forbidden in America today by journalists who convey a juvenile and incomplete narrative of world events. As Kennedy so elegantly articulated, the job of an American president is to sustain and maintain world peace and keep America out of war. Kennedy’s disdain for the military-industrial complex is his most vital attribute, and in my opinion, there is no better evidence of the existence of the military-industrial complex than the War In Ukraine. Is it America’s good fortune that there is a sudden need for military arms and intervention, and a matter of coincidence and pure chance, we are ready to fulfill those needs, or could it be possible that the individuals who will benefit the most from the war played a role in how things played out? It is a valid question not up for discussion in the United States. As if a proxy war with Russia is not enough, the media suggests confronting China over Taiwan might be a good idea.

The most important question, and the reason for this blog post, is to answer the question as to who would support Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Anna Merlan thinks she has the answer with her claim that Kennedy supporters are “Coalition of anti-vax activists, crypto enthusiasts, Silicon Valley moguls, and supporters from across the horseshoe of extremism.” It is obvious that the radical chic in-crowd only liked Silicon Valley moguls when they were de-platforming presidents. Liz Wolfe notes that Kennedy’s message resonates with libertarians because of his anti-war stance and opposition to COVID lockdowns and mandates. His opposition to the burgeoning surveillance state, the machinations of the FBI and CIA, and the military-industrial complex add to his libertarian appeal. Those topics and his views on them make me an RFK supporter.

On the other hand, his thoughts on air pollution are off-putting to the diehard libertarian who would privatize the air we breathe if given the opportunity. He also has a version of a more “market-based” Green New Deal that most libertarians reject. That notwithstanding, noted figures in the libertarian community like Ron Paul and Tom Woods realize that RFK, Jr has a lot of important things to say, and we should be listening to him. They will not abandon or destroy him because they don’t like one or two of his positions. There is no perfect presidential candidate. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, and I believe Mr. Kennedy has more strengths than weaknesses. The fact that a candidate who is such an outlier has been attacked so unrelentingly reveals that much more is going on than is immediately discernible. If RFK Jr is so dangerous, it should be self-evident. The fact that his own family has joined the ever-growing list of detractors means nothing to me. Their desire to humiliate him publicly and sabotage his campaign has only strengthened my support for Mr. Kennedy.

In summary, regarding my friend’s question about why I believe in RFK, Jr, I will ask him to reflect on me and how I have lived my life. For those that do not know me, I have raised my niece since her birth in 1993 when my sister was unable to raise her and continue to be the father she never had. I was in an interracial marriage. Despite the downturn it caused in my social life, my 88-year-old mother moved in with me when my father died because I love her and want to take care of her, and do not care what anyone thinks about my living situation. I have had a very successful career in the music industry and interacted with some of the finest musicians in the world. I returned to college in 2013 at age fifty-one, thrived at one of the finest(and most liberal) universities in the world, and marched alongside the Dean of Columbia University in the annual NYC Pride Parade as a show of support for my friends in the LGBT community. I graduated magna cum laude with a 3.7 GPA and gained the respect of the administration and my professors. None of my successes and friendships in the music industry and academia are because I thought exactly like the luminaries in these fields and institutions, upheld their political views, and told them what they wanted to hear; the opposite was true. They appreciated my ability to think for myself. I am not a slave to any ideology or political party, and my political and social views are wide-ranging. 

No matter where you live in the world when deciding who to vote for, tune out the mainstream media and all the usual places. Instead, go to the friends and family members you love, but despise or question their political views and talk to them. Rather than criticize,  have a conversation with them. Don’t let journalists like Zadrodzny, Merlan, and Wolfe misinterpret someone else’s words maliciously or tell you who you should vote for or associate with. The mainstream media is trying to popularize the character assassination template they perfected during the Trump presidency; the view that Robert F. Kennedy Jr is a crackpot, an antisemite, a racist, and a conspiracy theorist, and if you like him, you must be as well. That is a juvenile argument, but I will do something similar by tearing a page out of their book and reversing their argument. I am a well-educated and decent person who has sacrificed for my family and empathized with groups I feel have been discriminated against throughout our country’s history. I sacrificed my life for my family’s pro-life stance, yet support a woman’s right to choose. I honor the brave men and women who gave their lives for my freedom and hope they will continue to do so.

On the other hand, I don’t want to see future generations manipulated by American presidents that use virtues like loyalty, patriotism, and courage towards misguided ends, like U. S imperialism. Although I have excellent health insurance, I empathize with my friends, freelance journalists, musicians, and anyone else that do not have health insurance. I don’t want to see the police defunded, yet I don’t want to see a police officer kneel on the neck of a Black American and have conservatives explain it away as if he somehow deserved it. I have grown weary of thoughts and prayers, innocent school children murdered, and people from my generation that portray young Americans as a group of coddled and clueless ingrates. Most of all, I feel I am a man without a political party that speaks for me, as neither party seems able and willing to address the problem we face as a nation and seem to be making them worse. For these reasons, if he is a candidate for President of the United States in the 2024 presidential election, I will be casting my vote for Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

About the Author
I was a sociology major at Columbia University, where i received my B.A in 2017, at age 55. My opinion pieces have appeared in the Columbia Spectator, the Tab at Columbia University, and Merion West.
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