Vivek Ramaswamy. It’s not a name that rolls off the tongue with ease, but with practice and a smidgen of patience, it can be uttered rather fluidly.
I admit, when I first learned a man known as Vivek Ramaswamy was running for the 2024 Republican party presidential nomination against Donald Trump, Gov. Ron DeSantis (probably…maybe?) and a small gathering of lesser regarded announced and potential candidates, my reaction was one of intense skepticism. Not only would this Ramaswamy guy (it is a guy, right?) be pitted against the most recognized and formidable talent in the GOP, he would probably need to lecture everyone he introduced himself to on how to pronounce his name correctly.
In today’s age where politics is essentially an exclusive insider club filled with career hangers-on (see Biden, Joeseph, Schumer, “Chucky” and McConnell, Mitch), the likelihood that an outsider with a strange moniker could break through was somewhat less than promising. It’d be like introducing yourself to every passerby on the street and hoping each befuddled stranger somehow could be persuaded to listen long enough to overlook everything they’d ever ingrained about politics – and then vote for you for president.
But (and here’s the big “but” again), this is 2024, where the leading candidate on the Republican side is a man who attracts controversy like famished canines to Alpo and seems single-handedly capable of turning off about half the American public just by his very appearance – or merely by opening his mouth – might it be plausible? No one ever said because Donald J. Trump was running – again – for the Republican Party’s highest nomination that he would earn it just by showing up and declaring himself the winner.
Sure, Trump has his brigade of dedicated backers (otherwise known as the “only Trump” crowd), but there’s also a sizable contingent of conservatives and Republicans who are not only open to examining another candidate, they’re actively searching for one.
The most recent polls indicate Trump has not only developed a seemingly insurmountable lead over his closest opponent, he’s expanding his margin. Yet, there’s also the sense that it (the Republican race) ain’t over ‘til it’s over, and the real shouting and finger-pointing hasn’t even begun yet. Could there be room for a newcomer with an overabundance of intellect, an impressive personal resume, a lovely young family, a gift for gab and a basket full of accomplishments and ideas to place his foot in the proverbial door?
We’ll see. In a piece titled “Is Vivek Ramaswamy Surging? (He certainly thinks he has momentum.)”, Ellie Gardey wrote at The American Spectator recently:
“Ramaswamy’s stated central goal is to revive our ‘shared national identity.’ This involves bringing Americans together around common values (eliminating wokeness), replacing identity politics with merit (abolishing affirmative action), dismantling government bureaucracy, restoring free speech (ending cancel culture), and standing up against China. He describes patriotism as a value of which Americans are desperately in need...
“Ramaswamy’s prioritization of his idealistic vision of creating a shared national purpose and identity is perhaps why he has criticized Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for being an ‘implementer,’ which invokes the idea that DeSantis has no vision himself and is merely putting a set of policies into place.
“But Ramaswamy’s weakness lies in being more a visionary with lofty goals of changing hearts and minds than an implementer. More and more voters may be inspired by Ramaswamy’s vision of a more united and less woke country, but it would take a leap of faith to trust that the businessman could bring it into political effect.”
Therein lies the problem with Ramaswamy’s out-of-nowhere campaign. Similar to a practiced carnival barker, Vivek can draw an audience just through sheer force of personality and his unquestioned talent for invoking vivid imagery in his listeners’ brains, but when the proverbial rubber hits the road, what could he actually accomplish if he won the presidency?
I’ve been extremely impressed with Ramaswamy in virtually every media appearance I’ve come across him, but somehow, he always leaves me guessing how practical reality fits into his pitch. For those who’ve paid attention to the events of this nearly one-quarter old century, we’ve seen what was referred to as “political correctness” in the 1990’s grow into a leftist “woke” monster whose tentacles have infiltrated every crevice of our institutions and culture and won’t be expunged simply by waving one’s hand or wielding an executive pen.
I had an acquaintance tell me in the lead-up to the 2020 election that, “America would be just fine if Joe Biden wins and we’d also be just fine if Donald Trump wins.” Said acquaintance indicated he was voting for the Democrat because Trump was “too divisive” and Biden would bring us together and achieve things because people liked him better than the bombastic Republican bomb thrower.
Unfortunately for us, such simplistic views of politics are all too common among the non-political segment of the public, the ones who don’t pay regular attention to the behind-the-scenes moves in the federal bureaucracy or read the fine print in the thousand-page bills Congress passes. The old saying “Personnel is policy” has never been truer than in the Biden administration, where every leftist Democrat ideologue, weirdo, freak, race-monger and outright socialist has been passed along as nominees to lead America’s executive agencies.
The result? Predictable disaster. The military now cares more about rooting out so-called “extremists” than it does assembling a fighting force to kick tail and take names. Who the president is matters a heck of a lot and that’s the reason why people get so emotional and uneasy when they’re asked about who they support to be the next commander in chief.
According to the Star News Network’s M.D. Kittle, Vivek also made headlines in Iowa last week by “calling for a constitutional amendment changing the minimum voting age to 25, giving those 18 to 24 the ability to vote if they complete military or first responder service or pass the same civics test immigrants are made to take.”
Ramaswamy appears to have an exceptional talent for identifying and articulating the multitude of problems that America is experiencing these days, but simply declaring that he intends to use presidential power to do away with something like Affirmative Action and the Mexican drug cartels (through military force) is easier said than done. As far as I know, Vivek’s experience is in the private sector – does he understand how the swamp operates?
Not only that, Ramaswamy couldn’t dream of doing it by himself. Does he have individuals in place to run his campaign? Coordinate with the national party? Schedule his early state local appearances? Run a fundraising operation (wealthy Ramaswamy appears to be mostly self-funded and his net worth is reported to be $600 million)?
Are his position papers in order? He’s a smart guy, but does he have a thought on how to solve problem x based on federal statute y in state z? What about foreign policy? Does he have staff to answer media inquiries in places other than Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina? What if a person sees Vivek on TV and wants to volunteer for the campaign?
It just seems so overwhelming for a man like Ramaswamy no matter how talented and self-assured he might be. Vivek’s done a heck of a job reaching as high as five points in some early-race surveys, but realistically, what is his ceiling? It’s not as though he has a national name like “Kennedy” as RFK does in the other party.
A few months back I drew rebuke from Ramaswamy admirers when I suggested the thirty-something candidate was employing a Pete Buttigieg-like strategy of attracting national notice and simultaneously inserting his name into the political conversation for future reference, but I stick by my initial intuitions. I don’t think Ramaswamy truly believes he can win the presidency in 2024, but he’s certainly laid the foundation for a future in politics – if that’s truly what he chooses to pursue.
It goes without restating that running for president is a massive endeavor and the candidate himself is just the most visible member of an extremely large organization. To win a party nomination, you must have an established team of pollsters, lawyers, advisors, local experts and seasoned political veterans who can sing your praises on media appearances in your stead.
Ramaswamy could have all of these things – eventually – but he doesn’t start with a large pool of grassroots supporters. With each event or rally in the early states, he’s building as he goes along. But how could he possibly compete with a pervasive candidate like Donald Trump who already has tens of millions of hardened backers in every corner of the country and a data operation that keeps texting cell phones (like mine), begging for a response?
By his very nature, it appears Ramaswamy has a bright future in Republican politics and has decades to perfect his craft and develop answers to all the questions he’ll face in the coming campaign. He made a lot of friends by going toe-to-toe with CNN’s awful Don Lemon recently, and the goodwill he’s generating through sheer availability will benefit him… again, down the road.
The brainy and confident Ramaswamy reminds me a little of Ted Cruz when he first burst onto the national scene over a decade ago.
Vivek could quit the campaign right now and be satisfied that he’s already accomplished more – much more – than anyone gave him credit for at the beginning. And he’s done it all with a mostly positive message which avoided getting into a pissing match with the GOP’s most popular figurehead. Is there a cabinet post in Ramaswamy’s future? Or a run for senate in his native Ohio?
Either way, it will be fun to witness.
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