You may not know it, but a young (very young) American whose parents immigrated from India is running to become the Republican presidential candidate in the 2024 election. Not the other person of Indian descent running for that position that former news anchor Don Lemon felt was “not in her prime.” That person was Nikki Haley, a savvy politician who was a popular governor of South Carolina and Donald Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations. No, I am talking about Vivek Ramaswamy.
I first learned about Mr. Ramaswamy from an op-ed article he wrote in the Wall Street Journal about why he was running for president of the United States. I took notice because he was saying many of the things I have been writing about in my commentaries and broadcasting on my podcasts. He started out by saying, “To put America first, we need to rediscover what America is.”
This is precisely the problem that America is facing. President Biden is attempting to transform America into some sort of woke collectivist hellhole that bears little resemblance to the vision of the Founders, while former President Trump wants Americans to swear their loyalty to the Great Leader instead of the country. By Great Leader, I mean Donald Trump and not his pal Kim Jong Un.
Mr. Ramaswamy is a strong believer in meritocracy. He sounds similar to Lee Kuan Yew who transformed Singapore from a swampy colonial backwater into a prosperous, modern city-state (see, The Junzi Way, February 13, 2023). And he backs up his vision with very specific policy proposals on how he would change things as president. For example, he would rescind Executive Order 11246 that mandates that government contractors adopt race-based hiring preferences and he wants to amend the 1974 Impoundment Control Act so that the president can shut down agencies and departments that no longer serve their purpose, such as the Rural Utilities Service that is the descendant of Rural Electrification Administration created by FDR in 1935 (I prefer a line item veto as outlined in my book, Principled Policy, but that would require an amendment to the Constitution). He would make political expression a civil right which would bar universities, institutions and government from discriminating against persons who reject woke ideological theories (which he wrote about in his New York Times best-seller, Woke, Inc.).
In another recent op-ed (Prosperity Requires a Stable Dollar, May 1, 2023), Mr. Ramaswamy cogently explains why the Federal Reserve needs to concentrate on maintaining a stable currency. Echoing my recent comments (The Fed That Should Be, March 8, 2023), he stated, “Attempting to balance low inflation and full unemployment—trying to hit two targets with one arrow—has proved to be disastrous.” He closes his op-ed by saying, “The Fed should refocus to avoid repeating its past mistakes, and I intend to make the 2024 presidential race in part a referendum on the proper role of our central bank.” The Fed should not be the principle economic actor in our country despite the fact that the President and the Congress have abandoned their obligation to guarantee a stable economic structure in which the American people can thrive. Mr. Ramaswamy intends to change all that.
But a meritocracy is an insufficient definition of what America should be. Communist China also aspires to be a meritocracy. Mr. Ramaswamy’s vision for the future of America needs to be amplified. It needs to incorporate the founding principles that inspired the Founding Fathers to forge a disparate group of thirteen colonies into a new nation and create a new order for the ages. That is the spirit he needs to infuse into his campaign and into America.
I don’t know if Vivek Ramaswamy has any chance of winning the Republican nomination to run for president. He’s a political novice. Trump’s MAGA base would find his commentaries and policy recommendations incomprehensible. It is sad, but thoughtful articles and principled policies have little chance against attack ads.
But I do hope that he stays in the race. I would like to see him on the debate stage head-to-head with the other candidates and, especially head-to-head with former President Trump. Although the former president appears reluctant to attend primary debates (given his enormous lead over the other candidates) his narcissistic personality is easily manipulable and he could be goaded into participating by implying his reluctance is due to cowardice and not to his enormous lead.
Peggy Noonan, in her recent column (Of Course Trump Is Afraid to Debate, May 4, 2023), noted that, “To defeat Mr. Trump you have to attack him. But here, they say, is the problem: If you attack Mr. Trump, his base will never forgive you.” But Mr. Ramaswamy can attack Mr. Trump where he is weakest, on the facts and in-depth knowledge of American history. Mr. Ramaswamy would be impervious to Mr. Trump’s standard debating mode, branding opponents with stupid nicknames and character assassination. Attacks on Mr. Ramaswamy would be seen as bigoted and racist.
If Mr. Ramaswamy attacks Mr. Trump during debates (or for not debating) he may alienate the MAGA base which would make winning primaries very difficult if not impossible. But he would be doing the country a service. Maybe not as great a service as being president, but a service none the less.
I have not decided if I will vote for Mr. Ramaswamy in the primaries. The primary is ten months away and a lot can happen in ten months. But Mr. Ramaswamy is a lucid and intelligent voice that needs to be heard during the nomination process. And even if he does not win the nomination, any Republican nominee able to defeat a gaffe-prone, scandal-plagued geriatric would be well advised to find Mr. Ramaswamy a senior position in the new administration.