Last week, a first generation American, a graduate of Harvard and Yale who built his fortune as a biotech entrepreneur, stepped forward and announced that he is running for the Republican nomination for president.
Vivek Ramaswamy is already familiar to many on the political right for taking on many of the ideas of the left. He was an early and sturdy opponent of the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) agenda. He has correctly diagnosed the grievance and entitlement mentalities as the foundation of many of the pathologies we are experiencing in the United States. He routinely expresses skepticism about what he calls the “climate change religion”.
Like newcomers to the United States sometimes do, he has a way of seeing clearly, thinking clearly and speaking clearly about the problems we face.
Consequently — and in refreshing and marked counterpoint to the current batch of Republicans — he has proposed an agenda focused on specific and measurable items. He has tweeted, for example, that: “I will end affirmative action. I will totally dismantle climate religion. I will use our military to secure our borders from the drug cartels and end the fentanyl crisis.”
He talks about “dismantling” the federal bureaucracy and “defeating” communist China.
Given the aversion of most Republicans to any sort of policy discussions at all (the party is still working from the 2016 platform because no one wanted to talk about policy in 2020), the presence of someone in the race who wants to engage aggressively on policies is going to make life difficult for other candidates, especially those driven primarily by personality.
More importantly, however, Mr. Ramaswamy clearly has something beyond a traditional political campaign in mind. He routinely uses the language of a revival or a crusade to set right what has gone wrong.
“Today, we’re starting a cultural movement in our country, … our movement to create a new American dream for the next generation. This time it isn’t just about money. It is about the unapologetic pursuit of excellence itself.”
“It means that we believe in merit; believe in accountability; believe in free speech; believe in American exceptionalism. If you’re on board with these ideals, then we’re already on the same team. We’re ready to fight for the future of America.”
Moreover, Mr. Ramaswamy is not boring or predictable. He transmits a sense of real urgency, unfiltered by message testing or political consultants, which is something Republicans have not done since the 2016 cycle. He’s not angry or hostile. His demeanor seems more evangelical than anything else.
It is a refreshing change.
With respect to his personal history, Mr. Ramaswamy embodies what we all like to think about the United States; that it is a place where hard work and diligence is more important than the social status of your parents or who you know. He was first in his class in high school (St. Xavier’s in Cincinnati), summa cum laude at Harvard, and received a law degree from Yale.
He’s a successful entrepreneur. He’s made money. He’s met payrolls.
All that said, it seems unlikely that Mr. Ramaswamy will survive the grind of nomination process. It is rare for someone new to politics to win a major party presidential nomination, and the two major parties have nominated someone under the age of 40 for president just twice (both times in the 19th century).
But he can alter the terms of this election cycle, how the current Congress proceeds on issues like the debt ceiling and what the Republican Party looks like and sounds like after 2024.
For now, that may be enough.
Michael McKenna is the president of MWR Strategies. He was most recently a deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the White House.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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