Home Politics Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Targets a Generation of Politically Disaffected, Extremely Online Men

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Targets a Generation of Politically Disaffected, Extremely Online Men

by Alexander
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Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Targets a Generation of Politically Disaffected, Extremely Online Men

In his continued quest to become President of the United States or else become a very interesting footnote in someone else’s re-election, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. a number of celebrities and influencers engaged. On Tuesday he expanded those ranks, affirmatively The New York Times that he is “considering” NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers and former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura for his vice presidential pick; Politico reported this he’s also been ‘approached’ Senator Rand Paul, former Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and motivational speaker Tony Robbins.

But it was Rodgers and Ventura who attracted the most press attention, and it is their roles in the information ecosystem that most inform what Kennedy does. Outside of their careers in the NFL and WWE, Rodgers and Ventura are respectively known for: promoting anti-vaccine views in conversations with sports podcasters and Joe Rogan, and promotion politically unruly, sometimes conspiratorsl views on cable TV and Substack. By making his interest in them known, Kennedy is making overtures to a very specific potential voter: the highly online and politically disaffected young man.

Kennedy, an environmentalist turned anti-vaccine superstar, is already running a highly online campaign; as WIRED recently noted, the candidate is ubiquitous on Instagram, podcasts and Substack and has used influencers as proxies who will deliver his message to his niche bases. For the past few months, Kennedy has been hanging out with a snowboarder Travis Ricewith the name of a young and persistently bleached TikToker and aspiring musician named Link Lauren as “senior advisor” about his campaign, and appearing at a Bitcoin conference.

Online is a comfortable environment for Kennedy, a dyed-in-the-wool conspiracy theorist who has promoted anti-vaccine views since 2005. In addition to his many and virulent anti-vaccine campaignshe is especially willing to engage in conspiracy theories that are likely to go viral, esp suggesting that the CIA may have killed and promoted his uncle, John F. Kennedy long debunked and extremely dangerous junk science that AIDS is not caused by HIV. He has also clumsily tried to tap into conspiracy theories about the late pedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein, whose private plane he has been on at least twice. In December, he said Epstein’s flight logs should be released tweeted“I don’t hide anything, but she does!”

His attempts to appeal to both a conspiratorial base and a more mainstream voting bloc have been clumsy at times, but persistent – ​​and by strengthening his base among young men, who will become increasingly important this election year, he appears to find out how he bridges that gap. A huge help was of course his own appearance on Rogan’s podcast, where the two three hours of long-winded conspiracy theories about vaccines, 5G technology and ivermectin, some of Kennedy’s other biggest hits.

Kennedy’s interest in speaking to highly online, supposedly “anti-establishment” spaces also necessarily means that the people he speaks to have a demonstrable overlap with the so-called manosphere, the broad group of bloggers, podcasters, influencers and complaint peddlers who talk to young men. Choosing to align himself with figures like Aaron Rodgers – a mainstream football star who has promoted increasingly fringe beliefs and declared himself very brave in doing so – is an excellent way to appeal to the Venn diagram of young men and conspiracy curious. , says Derek Beres. “It makes perfect sense for what he does.”

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