This week a video was leaked of Rita Palma, New York director of the presidential campaign for Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., making some pretty eyebrow-raising statements. The public revelation of the subterfuge surrounding Kennedy’s campaign is not so much surprising as it is political in nature, however. In the wake of former president Donald Trump’s administration, there has been a chaotic shift from the politics of the 20th century, to what we have now come to recognize as normalcy in 2024.

Palma told a room full of Republicans that the strategy she was approved to come aboard the RFK Jr. campaign with was quite simple. It all comes down to numbers. If RFK Jr. can successfully swing Democrat votes and at the same time garner Republican voters, he will effectively have the smoking gun that will torpedo presidential candidates President Joe Biden’s and Trump’s chances of reaching the golden electoral college number of 270. If this scenario occurs, it would trigger Congress to decide who the next president of the United States would be. “If it’s a Republican Congress,” Palma could be seen saying in the video, “they’ll pick Trump. So, we’re rid of Biden either way.”

Parts of Palma’s YouTube video that had the state director presenting her theory to Republicans were deleted. But Palma confirmed the above quote. It is not a wild strategy or a new one. A candidate who enters a political race that is dominated by two major parties already knows that the votes s/he generates subtracts votes from the other candidates. That is how the political game is played. However, the issue with RFK Jr. is that the presumptive Democratic nominee is Biden and the presumptive MAGA nominee is Trump, for president of the United States. Not saying that there are not other political groups and affiliates that will be on the ballot, such the Libertarian, Independent, Green, New Progressive, and Peace and Freedom parties, as they should be, because that is what a democracy represents. Yet the votes that these third parties will gain will be nonconsequential in the grand scheme of American politics on Nov. 5, 2024. What will matter are the votes supporting Trump and MAGA, Biden Democrats, Independents, Black voters, and women. Anything poised to eat into the demographic that could jeopardize a second Biden term could threaten our democracy by shifting the balance to Trump.

Kennedy Jr. knows all of this. In recent years, he has exhibited questionable political stances that have led many to assume that the son of the late senator and former presidential candidate Robert Fitzgerald Kennedy has deviated from his family’s more liberal legacy. To step back a few years, RFK Jr. was popularizing conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent vaccine on Twitter.

The Kennedy family collectively rebuked RFK Jr. for his public views. With the announcement of his presidential aspirations, the Kennedy clan once again repudiated him. His sister Rory Kennedy wrote on Instagram in 2023 that “the decision of our brother Bobby to run as a third-party candidate against Joe Biden is dangerous to our country.” She further stated that “Bobby might share the same name as our father, but he does not share the same values, vision or judgment.”

Then earlier this month while on a tour to promote her latest documentary “The Synanon Fix,” Rory Kennedy commented that her biggest concern about her older brother’s candidacy “is that he is going to take votes away from President Joe Biden. I think this election is going to come down to a handful of votes in a handful of states… and voting for Bobby is going to take away from Biden and lead to a Trump election and I am very concerned what that will do to our country and to the world over the ensuing years.”

Kennedy Jr. does not operate on a level of political naivete. He is aware of this dynamic as was seen early in his campaign when he initially announced that he was running as a Democratic candidate, then quickly switched to Independent. Democrats immediately called him out, accusing him of playing a double agent threat to the Biden campaign.

Closer investigation revealed something more along the lines of what Palma pointed out in the video circulating across the media. Timothy Mellon, grandson of railroad magnet and banker Andrew Mellon, former trustee of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the largest donor to RFK Jr.’s Super PAC, is also the largest donor to the Trump SuperPAC. The amount? Both campaigns received a sum of $5M. Coincidence or a percolating plan? Mellon also donated to the state of Texas $53.1M to construct the border wall between Mexico and the U.S. in 2021.

It would appear that while claiming to be an Independent political candidate, and also the founder of the new “We The People” political party, RFK Jr. is only using these as a smokescreen to cloudy the judgment of voters, and capitalize on his famous name and family legacy to slyly siphon votes to Trump. That is why it is more important than ever for registered voters to remain vigilant and aware of the evershifting political climate that we are facing in 2024. There are a lot of important issues that will be on ballots locally, statewide and nationally. Being politically ignorant of those issues coupled with not voting in one’s best interests could have long lasting ramifications.