Robert Reich: The Disgrace And Danger Of RFK Jr. – OpEd


I’m feeling much better (thank you for your well wishes). But my COVID would have been far worse if I’d had no vaccinations and hence no immunity. 

Which makes me seethe about Robert F. Kennedy Jr. — not to mention his decision to run for president as an independent and thereby draw potential votes away from Joe Biden in what could be a nail-biter of a race determining the future of American democracy. 


At a time when the truth is a precious common good, RFK Jr. has been trading on his famous name to spread dangerous lies. 

A few months ago he claimed that COVID-19 was “targeted to attack Caucasians and Black people,” and that “the people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese.” And that “the Chinese are spending hundreds of millions of dollars developing ethnic bioweapons and we are developing ethnic bioweapons. They’re collecting Russian DNA. They’re collecting Chinese DNA so we can target people by race.”

I knew Robert F. Kennedy, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is no Robert F. Kennedy.

I worked in Robert F. Kennedy’s Senate office in 1967. It wasn’t a glamorous job. I ran the signature machine. But I did have a chance to get to see Bobby Kennedy close up. I watched him stand up for economic and social justice. I witnessed him bringing together people of every race and ethnicity — to demand equal rights and an end to the Vietnam War.

Robert F. Kennedy would never have suggested or even thought that a deadly virus was targeted at certain races. He wouldn’t have repeated the trope, dating at least to the Middle Ages, that Jews unleashed a plague on non-Jews.


Junior has promoted the baseless claim linking vaccines to autism. He’s been a leading proponent of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation, suggesting the vaccine has killed more people than it has saved.

In his 2021 book, The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health, he alleged, without plausible evidence, that Dr. Fauci performed “genocidal experiments, sabotaged treatments for AIDS, and conspired with Bill Gates to suppress information about COVID-19.” This is libelous nonsense. 

RFK Jr.’s misinformation about vaccines continues to endanger public health. 

Another contrast with his father and his uncle: In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed the Vaccination Assistance Act in order to, in the words of a CDC report, “achieve as quickly as possible the protection of the population, especially of all preschool children … through intensive immunization activity.”)


RFK Jr is not an independent. He is a right-wing tool being used to help elect Trump. His candidacy has been backed by a PAC that also funds Marjorie Taylor Greene and George Santos. 

If not for his name, RFK Jr. would be just another crackpot in the growing pool of bottom-feeding right-wing fringe politicians seeking office. But the Kennedy brand is political gold, and could pull away just enough unwitting Democratic voters to tip the race to Trump. 

Democracy won by a whisker in 2020. Just 44,000 votes in Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin decided the outcome. If RFK Jr, or any third-party candidate, peels off just a fraction of the vote from Biden, while Trump’s base stays with him, they will delivery a victory to Trump. 

That Robert F. Kennedy’s good name is being used in a way that increases the risk of a Trump victory next year is shameful. If Junior had any respect for the principles his father fought for, and ultimately died for, he would withdraw his candidacy immediately.

This article was published at Robert Reich’s Substack

Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, and writes at Reich served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fifteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good," which is available in bookstores now. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.

2 thoughts on “Robert Reich: The Disgrace And Danger Of RFK Jr. – OpEd

  • October 12, 2023 at 5:26 am

    First off, Robert Reich, I love your video on YouTube about wealth inequality in America and have shared it many of times. Also now that I ready your Bio, I’m excited to watch the Netflix documentary Saving Capitalism.
    Im one of these “unwitting Democratic voters” you speak of that will vote for RFK JR. If nothing better comes up. He is actually motivated to shake up the establishment capitalism. business as usual. bought and paid for. DNC and their media outlets have treated any anti establishment candidate terribly, like Bernie and now Rfk Jr. They twist everyone he says, to fit the narrative they want the Democrats to believe, that he is a crazy, longshot, conspiracy theorist nut job. You also have twisted what he said in your article here. By not including this part after targeting Jews “We don’t know whether it was deliberately targeted that or not.”

    If you want a person who has an outstanding record talking the down big polluters, big companies and truly caring about fixing Capitalism, which I think you do Reich, definitely consider Rfk Jr. Or more of that money is gonna keep sliding to the 1%. So to anyone who has a bad impression of him, because of the news the media is feeding you, actually listen to some of Rfk Jr’s speeches.

    and perhaps considering the USA did worse on Covid deaths than any other developed nation, we should consider that the COVID Protocol the CDC forced on us had flaws. and Rfk Jr has some good thoughts on what those were. It could have been an amazing push to help heal the chronic disease epidemic here, to eat better, learn to heal ourselves, boost our immune systems, etc. Instead of shutting ourselves away in isolation and social distancing, which human connection is the most basic human need, without it we become depressed. But for some reason, questioning what we were told to do was “anti science”, “anti vaccine” and people ganged up on anyone who questioned it in a weird way. Science is meant to be questioned. My degree is in the Sciences. And somehow Tribalism separated Democrats into people who never question science, support the CDC and support all COVID Protocols, and idk some Republicans could question it? Glad we are coming out of that. And I hope people actually reflect on it. Rfk Jr surely does. Anyways. I am a democrat now independent supporting Rfk Jr.

  • October 13, 2023 at 7:40 pm

    If you are a single issue voter on vaccines, then Bobby is probably not your candidate. I agree he went too far down the rabbit hole looking for science to support his main belief on the subject, which is that the gov’t shouldn’t be able to tell you you have to inject something into your child (or yourself) in order for that child to exercise their right to public school (or other public rights), and other examples of governmental overreach. (BTW, it hurts for me to type because I got both flu and Covid shots two days ago.)* The provocative example he used about the *possible* targeting of Covid to certain ethnicities is both to highlight the disaster that pharmaceutical companies (or other bad actors with a lot of power) *could* unleash given the seemingly natural fact that Covid hit different races differently.

    Have you taken the time to listen to either/both Bobby’s speeches when he announced his candidacy and then when he announced his move to be an independent? Listen to those, and then, in this space, enumerate your thoughts on the broader array of proposals and ideas he is putting forth. People also seem to criticize him for being long-winded but I’m of the mind that the major problems facing the US aren’t really answerable on a bumper sticker.

    *I’m a Ph.D. scientist (Biology from Stanford, MBA from UMaryland). I got my flu and Covid shots, and my kids have the full suite of vaccines because I believe they work to protect my kids and me. If the guy sitting next to me doesn’t want one, that’s his loss but I don’t care – I’m protected. And, yes, I know, there are vulnerable who can’t receive the shots but if we all thought that the most vulnerable in this country deserved protection, I think maybe I’d start with the tax code and corporate welfare as opposed to the very narrow issue of Covid vaccines.

    I was also a DC insider for years until I moved to and started teaching HS and working EMS in a very rural, very poor part of Vermont where there are far more Trump signs than Biden, and it’s not at all hard to understand why. Very few people really want Trump. They are just sick to death of the liberal elite who can’t get it, who spend hours and days wringing their hands and flying flags about a couple thousand people dead in a foreign conflict, which is fewer than the number of people who have died here at home due to deaths of despair over the same time (this past weekend), deaths that are underpinned by the vast economic inequality in this country.

    You of all people should get it. The very large middle of the country is tired of being expected, time and again, to just keep eating sh!t and grinning, and Bobby is speaking to them, and he means it, and he has been saying and acting on it for the last 20 years or more. Like the previous commenter, a lifelong Democrat (I worked in Congress for 5+ years for two D reps in senior policy positions) who will support RFK, Jr.


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