RFK Jr. and Ramaswamy coming up fast in the outside lanes

There’s an interesting development on the way to the 2024 presidential election. Two outsiders shunned or ignored by the entrenched establishments of both political parties, as well as much of the mainstream media, are connecting with actual voters in a very real way: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. on the Democratic side and Vivek Ramaswamy on the Republican.

As to why they are outsiders, let’s start with Kennedy. Much of why the entrenched establishment can’t stand him, while millions of Americans are flocking to his vision for our nation, was encapsulated during a townhall-style interview hosted by Fox News anchor Sean Hannity this week.

During the course of the townhall — which was interrupted often by applause by the hundreds in attendance — Kennedy said: “We have a system of cushy socialism for the super-rich and this brutal, savage, merciless capitalism for the poor. And it’s all designed to strip-mine the middle class in this country of all their equity, all of their assets and move it to the upper echelons. And the Covid lockdowns were the final straw. Under Covid lockdowns, we created a billionaire a day and this was Trump and Biden — 500 days of lockdowns — we created a billionaire a day. We moved $4 trillion from the middle class to the super-rich. The people who came into the lockdown with $1 billion increased their wealth on average by 30%. We closed 3.3 million businesses.”

Unbiased observers can see why much of the establishment wants him silenced, while millions of American voters believe they have found their champion for 2024. That said, one of the major problems for Kennedy is that much of the mainstream media is part of that entrenched establishment.

One of the reasons Democrat Kennedy has done so many appearances on Fox News is that much of the mainstream media refuses to have him on their airways. Many journalists, who are supposed to be unbiased and professional, refuse to hear or even debate a point of view from the leading challenger to President Joe Biden.

Is some of the mainstream media now morphing into the policy and communications staff for the Biden campaign? Or, at the very least, the opposition to Kennedy?

All of which brings us back to the voters. The latest Harvard-Harris poll places Kennedy in first place when it comes to favorability: at 47 percent he is ahead of Biden, Trump, DeSantis and every other candidate. His un-favorability is the lowest among all candidates, at just 26 percent. That poll was taken after the recent “Covid-antisemitic” narrative pushed by many in the media and the Democratic Party the previous 10 days.

Clearly, when voters hear Kennedy, he is connecting. His challenge is to find ways to amplify his voice.

Next, we come to Vivek Ramaswamy, who launched his bid for the Republican nomination in February. The multimillionaire biotech entrepreneur is all of 37 years old and has never spent a day in government. He wants to change all of that by taking the top job in all of government.

As with Kennedy, while many in the Republican establishment are ignoring or even mocking Ramaswamy and his campaign, voters seem to be taking an interest in him and his positions.

A number of national surveys have recently shown Ramaswamy surging. Suddenly, he has gone from a complete unknown to third in the polling, trailing only Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.).

Why is he moving up so quickly? While there are multiple reasons, three stand out. First, he has condensed his campaign for the White House into a simple message that resonates with voters: “Excellence over Victimhood. Democracy over Aristocracy. America over China. Diversity of Thought over Appearance. Truth over Relativism. Equal Opportunity over Equal Results.”

The second is that as a Republican candidate of color, his life story is also touching those who hear and identify with it. Born to Indian immigrant parents, Ramaswamy graduated from Harvard with a degree in biology before going on to Yale Law School to get his J.D.

Third, unlike the unethical blackballing of RFK Jr. by many in the mainstream media, Ramaswamy has been welcomed with mostly open arms and has jumped at virtually every chance to be on TV. This strategy is paying off as, slowly but surely, more voters not only get to know him but hear of his vision for the nation.

Even though he is surging in the polls and has easily qualified for the first GOP debate in August, some rival campaigns refuse to give him the respect he has earned. As NBC News reported, an operative for another campaign condescendingly said, “He’s not a real candidate. His campaign is built on Twitter. He’s everything to everybody always. We don’t really think about him. And at no point are we going to engage with him.”

I have little doubt that, like an opposing Super Bowl team that just got trashed by the competition, the Ramaswamy campaign already has that quote up on a bulletin board.

The entrenched establishments and the mainstream media can dismiss RFK Jr. and Ramaswamy all they want, but the voters may decide that outsiders are in for 2024.

Douglas MacKinnon, a political and communications consultant, was a writer in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and former special assistant for policy and communications at the Pentagon during the last three years of the Bush administration.

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