Environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr will seek the presidency as an independent in 2024.
Kennedy, a lifelong Democrat, announced his new affiliation while speaking in Philadelphia on Oct. 9. He called on Americans to give up their addiction to taking sides.
“Today we turn a new page in American politics,” said Kennedy. “There have been independent candidates before but this time is going to be different because this time … the independent is going to win.”
Kennedy called the system of government “hopelessly corrupt” and detailed the ways in which both parties failed to uphold America’s foundational values.
He said Americans should embrace a “new Declaration of Independence.”
“We declare ourselves independence from the corporations that have hijacked our government,” said Kennedy. “We declare independence from Wall Street, big tech, big pharma from big AG, and the military contractor and their lobbyists.”
He also said Americans must declare independence from the “mercenary media” that serves its advertisers and that “urges us to hate our neighbor and fear our friends,” as well as the “cynical elites who betray our hope and who amplify our divisions.” Kennedy denounced “the two political parties” and the government officials whom he compared to “indentured servants for their corporate bosses.”
The enthusiastic crowd periodically chanted “Bobby! Bobby!”
Kennedy said he has traveled “millions of American miles” over the course of his career and that American politics are “incompatible with the right for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
“How can we guard liberty when the surveillance state seeks to hide the truth and squash dissent?” he said.
Kennedy called the two major political parties ineffective and suggested both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump were unfavorable among voters.
He described his own experience “over the last six months” of changing his political views after becoming more open to listening to alternative points of view.
As an example, he cited his changing opinion on open borders and his view on those who advocate for more secure borders – whom he said he would have labeled as racist or xenophobic.
He said his trips to the border and his conversations with border agents, community members and migrants made him review his stance, though he did not explicitly promise to build a border wall.
Kennedy also vowed to hold his opinions “lightly” and choose “not the easy path or the established path but the right path.”
“One cannot insist on getting one’s way on every single issue,” he told the crowd.
He also warned that the media will classify his independent campaign as a long shot that is unlikely to succeed. He said that Democrats will be concerned he will spoil the election for Biden while Republicans will fear he will spoil the election for Trump.
“I’m going to spoil it for both of them,” Kennedy said, calling his campaign a “populist movement that defies left-right division” that offers an “authentic challenge” to established power.
“I haven’t made this decision lightly,” said Kennedy, who added that it is “very painful… to let go of the party” at the center of his family’s political dynasty.
However, Kennedy said campaigning as an independent would ultimately allow him to best serve Americans.
“I can stand before you as every leader should stand before you … as a servant only to my conscience, my creator, and to you,” he said.