RFK, Jr’s VP to be Named Later: Aaron Rodgers

Photograph Source: All-Pro Reels – CC BY-SA 2.0

In a political campaign that, on one side, already features an adjudicated rapist, financial fraudster, and potential felon and, on the other, a candidate that walks and talks like a robot powered by artificial intelligence of the lesser kind, get ready for a third party that might well put forth a recovered drug addict and anti-vaxxer paired with a quarterback for the endlessly-hopeless New York Jets, on the off chance that all spectrums of craziness are not yet on the ballot.

In January 2024, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.—the son of the New York senator of the same name who was assassinated in 1968 while himself running for president—launched his own We the People Party to put RFK Jr. on the presidential ballot in all fifty states.

In the long run, by registering a new political party, Kennedy might need fewer signatures to get on state ballots than if he were running as an unaffiliated or independent candidate.

Depending on which polls you consult, RFK Jr.’s standing at the moment fluctuates between 1% (in a general election against Biden and Trump) to 15%, when factors such as a “favorability” and “likability” are blended into the witches brew of political forecasting.

Because he has never held elective office, RFK Jr. is better liked both among registered Republicans and Democrats than their existing candidates, although much of that favorability can be due to the fact that voters know a lot about Trump’s psychosis and Biden’s impairments while with RFK Jr. all they pretty much know is his famous family name (President John F. Kennedy was his uncle) and that he’s an anti-vaxxer coming soon to a Fox interview near you.


Now comes the news that on RFK Jr.’s shortlist of vice presidential candidates are the former pro wrestler and Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura (don’t tell “Dutch” Savage) and the flakey New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who got the news he was on RFK Jr.’s shortlist while in Costa Rica experiencing a wellness retreat with ayahuasca, a brew of various hallucinogens that come from jungle ingredients favored by Amazonian shamans and divination faith healers.

Rodgers came to the Jets in 2023 in a trade after he brooded on his career in a four-night “darkness” retreat at Sky Cave in Oregon. Fortified by ayahuasca and the dark, Rodgers lasted four plays into the first game of the Jets’ season, and then missed the rest of the year with a torn Achilles tendon.

For the moment, the Jets are paying Rodgers an average of $38 million a year (fully guaranteed for three years, plus millions in “dead cap” money down the road) to drop organic acid in the jungle and weigh vice presidential offers, but he may balance the RFK Jr. ticket in this way: before Kennedy cleaned up his act, his drugs of choice were heroin and cocaine, and he might well now feel that he needs to reach across the aisle to attract voters drawn more to organic than synthetic dope.


As an independent third-party candidate, from whom—Biden or Trump—would RFK Jr. draw the most votes and would they be enough to tilt the election?

RFK Jr.’s views are scattered across the political spectrum, making him hard to define—something that no doubt will attract voters from both the far Left and Right. I don’t think he will appeal to centrists, if there are any remaining. But it says something about his non-conventional thinking that the Trump campaign sounded him out as a potential vice-presidential candidate on the Republican ticket, and if you are as much of a conspiracy theorist as RFK Jr. is, you might well conclude that Trump and Bobby have already made a deal.

My guess is that the Kennedy brand speaks more to Democrats than to Republicans, and that with a substantial turnout RFK Jr. would deny the election to Biden.


RFK Jr.’s signature issue is vaccines, which, even before Covid, he believed caused autism in children. During the pandemic, his anti-vaxxism reached new bizarreness when he suggested that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus was “constructed” in a way to spare Ashkenazi Jews and the Chinese, which would indicate that those Wuhan lab researchers who let the virus loose had copies of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion under their microscopes.

RFK Jr.’s evolving stump speech now focuses more on an economic populism that is an odd synthesis of ideas designed to appeal equally to disenchanted Republicans and Democrats. (So-called “double-haters”, voters who equally dislike Biden and Trump, now make up 19% of the electorate and will decide the election.)

For example, RFK Jr. has a Bernie Sanders-like refrain in his talks, when he says:

We dont have fair market capitalism. We have corporate crony capitalism, where the rules are written by billionaires and incumbents and large corporations, to stack the deck against the middle class.

RFK Jr. also rails about the $34 trillion national deficit at a time when millions of Americans are malnourished or hungry, and he opposes the war in Ukraine and the billions spent on the effort, both as a bailout of the military-industrial complex and because “we cannot afford it.”

But then he can drift over to the monetary far-right and speak about returning the United States to the Bitcoin-equivalent of the gold standard and pegging the dollars to hard assets, so that corrupt Washington politicians cannot spend their way out of every crisis (the pandemic, Ukraine, Gaza, etc.).

RFK Jr.’s professional background is as an environmental lawyer who has taken on strip miners and other polluters, and thus—in an obvious appeal to young voters—he speaks well on the threats of climate change and the damage done by fossil fuels.

In that sense he’s at variance with Trump, who on his “first day” back in office would turn on every available oil spigot, and with Biden, who unleashed the dogs of drilling on the Alaskan wilderness.


It’s possible, as an heir to the Kennedy fortune (his grandfather, Joseph P. Kennedy, was a financier and, moreover, a bootlegger during Prohibition), that RFK Jr. can self-fund some of his campaign expenses, although he has a Super PAC behind him that ran a $7 million Super Bowl advertisement that neatly blended RFK Jr. with a soundtrack jingle from a 1960 Jack Kennedy ad and the sense that RFK Jr. is the rightful heir to the Kennedys-in-Camelot legacy.

The ad prompted denunciations of RFK Jr. from numerous Kennedy cousins (they presumably know him better than anyone), one of whom said: My cousins Super Bowl ad used our uncles faces — and my Mothers. She would be appalled by his deadly health care views. Respect for science, vaccines, & health care equity were in her DNA.” Another cousin, a JFK grandson, said: We denounce his candidacy and believe it to be perilous for our country.”

No doubt part of the reason that so many in his extended family dislike him is because they watched him destroy several marriages, one of which ended when the wife he was suing for divorce committed suicide in their family house—after RFK Jr. tried in court to restrict her access to their four children.


Then there is RFK Jr.’s All-Pro status as an adulterer, which became clear when the tabloid New York Post got its hands on RFK Jr.’s diary from 2001, in which he tabulated no less than sixteen affairs (using some weird coding system to indicate the nature and quality of the indiscretion).

It was ever thus with many Kennedy men, including his presidential uncle and his father, although presumably they didn’t keep score with a ledger. Defending himself, RFK Jr. says (sounding as virtuous as Thoreau): “I was trying to live an examined life.”

Kennedy now argues that his drug use and infidelity are issues “from the past,” and in his stump speeches he quickly segues into programs to help those suffering from trauma or mental illness, and from there in his stream-of-consciousness way, he can connect vaccines to the national deficit, the war in Ukraine, child hunger and income inequality for African-Americans. By that point, you might well have forgotten what prompted the question.

Political science indicates that third-party candidates only do well in U.S. presidential elections when neither of the two major parties addresses a host of issues that are of concern to the electorate.

By that measure, assuming he can get on the ballot in fifty states and win an invitation to a presidential debate, RFK Jr. (with or without Aaron Rodgers) can go a long way in influencing the 2024 election.

As best I can tell, neither Trump nor Biden are able to articulate much of anything about the American condition.

Trump only has two issues: one is dodging his many criminal raps by the defalcation of campaign funds and the other is to imply that along the southern border lies an army of “stone-cold” rapists (presumably those in department stores are warmer?) coming after your mothers and sisters. Biden’s only is issue is “staying the course,” which means a non-Trump future.

Because the brain wires in both Trump and Biden are often crossed, neither man can speak in complete sentences or in serious off-the-cuff conversations about what ails America.

Instead, both men speak a kind of TikTok language based on a few words or sentence fragments. By contrast, RFK Jr. (even though he suffers from spasmodic dysphonia and speaks like a tremulous aunt) sounds far better informed and more articulate compared to Biden and Trump. They better hope he does not get anywhere near a debate stage.


RFK Jr.’s weakness as a candidate can be seen in his political flirtations with Aaron Rodgers (let’s hope he’s not in the diary), which suggest that RFK Jr. still believes in Superman—be he an NFL quarterback or the mythology around his own murdered father and uncle—and that he himself is a child of Krypton.

For a number of years, Rodgers proved himself to be a better-than-average passer (perhaps one of the greats), but in that time he only won one Super Bowl while Tom Brady won seven.

What held Rodgers back from greatness (and will continue to do so, if he ever gets back on the field) is that he was always the smartest guy in the locker room, with more theories about winning than anyone else (except that in most seasons, his systems never worked out, and he only has as many Super Bowl rings as Trent Dilfer).

Now the impressionable child RFK Jr.—like the Little Boy Fauntleroy owner of the New York Jets, Woody Johnson—is falling under the spell of Superman Rodgers, with all his own anti-vax, Sandy Hook, and darkness theories about finding excellence for America.

I am sure it all sounds great when you’re signing one of his guaranteed contracts or giving away numerous draft picks to claim a 40-year-old QB with wobbly ankles, but it rarely works out on the field. And to believe that RFK Jr. can fix America is to believe that Rodgers, from the depths of an Orgone Accumulator, can turn around the Jets.

Matthew Stevenson is the author of many books, including Reading the Rails, Appalachia Spring, andThe Revolution as a Dinner Party, about China throughout its turbulent twentieth century. His most recent books are Biking with Bismarck and Our Man in Iran. Out now: Donald Trump’s Circus Maximus and Joe Biden’s Excellent Adventure, about the 2016 and 2020 elections.