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Apparently brainworms are contagious

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Say this for RFK Jr.’s running mate, she’s a very appropriate running mate for RFK Jr.:

The crowd in Austin last week — a mix of moneyed supporters, longtime anti-vaccine activists, libertarians, hippies, and health and wellness devotees — clapped and hooted as Shanahan said she didn’t want to talk about guns or inflation, but rather about what really ails America: chronic illness, poverty and political division. In a 16-minute speech punctuated by sighs and laughter, Shanahan said the answers to those problems weren’t to be found in ideas from the conventional left or right, but in Kennedy, and the “realm of the alternative.”

“I have seen the power of these alternative ways of thinking in my own life,” Shanahan said.

Once a Democratic donor, Shanahan and her politics have changed drastically in the last few years, a journey she attributes to the pandemic and her 5-year-old daughter’s autism diagnosis.Shanahan has embraced new influences, including a doctor guru who believes, wrongly, that vaccines cause widespread injury and sunshine cures almost everything. Her fringe ideas are now central to a presidential platform that rejects experts and institutions, and elevates influencers and entrepreneurs with conspiratorial views and dubious solutions to national problems. 

Shanahan is emblematic of a certain “left to right crossover” that Derek Beres, an author and co-host of the podcast Conspirituality, documented during the pandemic: a coalescence of MAGA patriots, New Agers, wellness influencers and conspiracy theorists, united by their opposition to Covid protective measures and vaccines.

Shanahan supports states’ legislating restrictions on abortion and far-right efforts to ban trans youth health care; has demanded the recall of Covid vaccines; and rails against “Big Pharma,” “Big Tech” and “Big Ag.” What can feel like a series of unconnected pitches to the radical center is united by an undercurrent of distrust — of government, institutions and the press — that is core to Kennedy’s campaign. Her political inexperience, far-out talking points and ease to tears have drawn critics. Democratic National Committee strategist Lis Smith called her “woefully unserious”; Donald Trump called her a gold digger, referring to her marriage to Google co-founder Sergey Brin, whom she divorced in 2023. 

The good news, such as it is, is that I find it hard to believe that to the extent they gets any traction at all these reactionary-lunatic dishits will pull more votes from Biden than Trump. AFICT the only significant difference between RFK Jr. and Trump is that he’s more anti-vaxx.

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