Is Robert Kennedy Jr. crypto’s hero? Not the one it needs

May 12, 2023, 1:23 PM UTC
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks in Berlin on Aug. 29, 2020.
Sean Gallup—Getty Images

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the long-shot candidate challenging Joe Biden for the Democratic 2024 nomination, believes the CIA had a role in the assassination of his uncle, JFK. He opposes vaccines on the grounds they’re a medical conspiracy, and he has boosted a theory that Bill Gates is out to control us all with microchips. He’s a crackpot in other words.

But since Kennedy’s family is political royalty, he is no ordinary crackpot. Thanks to his pedigree, he has an outsize megaphone and can summon audiences that would otherwise pay no attention to him or his kooky ideas. Those audiences include the throngs next week at the annual tribal gathering known as Bitcoin Miami, where Kennedy will make his first official appearance as a presidential candidate.

He was invited to speak because he’s an outspoken advocate for crypto, recently defending the industry against the White House’s apparent attempt to use the banking crisis in an attempt to smother it. His positions on crypto have been correct, or at least defensible—unlike, say, his unfounded stance on the “harms” of 5G—and so it is understandable the Bitcoin crowd is rolling out the red carpet for him.

You can also make the case that, at a time when crypto is under attack from the most powerful people in the country, the industry needs to embrace every political ally it can find. Meanwhile, it’s also true that polling shows large majorities of the country dread the idea of a rematch of the 2020 election, and some people would prefer to take a flyer on anyone else—even a well-known kook—than have to again choose between a geriatric and a fascist coup enabler.

Still, the crypto world should be careful not to embrace Kennedy too closely. This is partly because he’s also being boosted by some nasty figures from the far right—including Steve Bannon, Alex Jones, and Tucker Carlson—who are no doubt trying to foment mischief ahead of the election. But it’s also because, if crypto is looking for political torchbearers, it has much better options on both the left and the right, including Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) and Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), who can accomplish far more for the cause.

Kennedy might believe he needs the crypto vote, but it doesn’t need him.

Jeff John Roberts


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