Multimillionaire Vivek Ramaswamy is running for president. The 37-year-old former biotechnology executive announced his run Tuesday night on Tucker Carlson’s show.
“We are in the middle of this national identity crisis, Tucker, where we have celebrated our diversity and our differences for so long, that we forgot all the ways we’re really just the same, as Americans, bound by a common set of ideals that set this nation into motion 250 years ago,” Ramaswamy pontificated. “And that’s why I’m proud to say tonight that I’m running for United States president, to revive those ideals in this country.”
Ramaswamy is among the growing array of elite-educated Republicans like Josh Hawley and J.D. Vance who purport to be speaking to deeper truths plaguing America that are completely unrelated to the actual material conditions of the people. A graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School, Ramaswamy has a long resume, co-founding and leading technology and pharmaceutical companies, as well as an asset management firm backed by Vance and billionaire investor Peter Thiel.
Beyond crusading against companies for investing in environmental, social, and governance activities, Ramaswamy has focused much of his campaign on “wokeism,” the right wing’s catchall term for anything they don’t like. His early campaign signs, instead of offering a vision of hope or collective material uplift, simply say “Stop Wokeness. Vote Vivek.” He is the author of two books on American culture being plagued by “wokeness” and victimhood culture. His entire project, as his announcement on insurrection-inciting Fox News indicates, is to cut through these dynamics that allegedly divide and weaken America’s shared identity and replace them with a revitalized sense of original American exceptionalism. (Nevermind that America’s original “ideals” were constructed by slave owners who did not even pretend to treat women or non-white people as equal.)
When asked about actual policies he’d push for as president, Ramaswamy focused much of his attention on enacting stricter immigration rules and ending affirmative action to “put the merit back in America.” His focus on wokeness supersedes all else. In this way, he falls in line with much of the Republican Party, with its incessant attacks on schools and libraries, under the guise of “defending” against this supposed ideology.
Further explaining his candidacy in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Ramaswamy described kitchen-table policies like releasing “state action files” à la Elon Musk’s Twitter files. He continued his very in-touch discussion by arguing that Americans find “meaning” in “secular religions like climatism, Covidism, and gender ideology,” and “the woke agenda.” Beyond dismissing issues like climate change as millions worry about environmental impacts after the East Palestine train derailment, Ramaswamy himself is advancing an uncritical glorifying doctrine, one that worships historically nonexistent sacred common American ideals.
Ramaswamy becomes the second Republican after Nikki Haley to announce a challenge against twice-impeached former President Donald Trump. A number of other Republicans have indicated strong interest in running; the 2024 GOP primary, already befallen by the party’s absurd topics of focus, will likely be all the more anarchic given how crowded it may come to be.
Perhaps Ramaswamy understands the basic, fundamental tensions underlying his candidacy, and is just doing it all disingenuously; maybe he’s seeking to become the next person of color to gain more success and wealth by appealing to white conservative fantasy. Or he’s actually gullible enough to buy into lazy narratives about American exceptionalism—ideas he may present as bold truths others are afraid to say, but have indeed been defining features of the status quo of America since its founding.
Possibly, it’s all just a game to the college debater, a way to win an argument he has no business winning. “I consider myself a contrarian,” Ramaswamy told The Harvard Crimson long ago. “I like to argue.”