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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Vivek Ramaswamy hides dangerous, extremist ideology behind his Ivy League charisma

Entrepreneur and author Vivek Ramaswamy waves as he arrives to take part in the first Republican Presidential primary debate at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on August 23, 2023. 

“Now, to answer the question on everyone’s mind: What’s a skinny guy with a funny last name doing at the center of your debate stage?” With glaring white teeth and a cheekbone splitting smile, Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy introduced himself during the first candidate debate on Aug. 13.  Relying on his unbridled charisma, he then launched into an impassioned recital of his “10 Truths,” a list that includes statements such as “God is real,” “there are two genders” and “reverse racism is racism.”

Throughout the debate, rows of white voters greeted Ramaswamy, a 38-year-old Indian American candidate, with thunderous applause. However, in a salient demonstration of his unoriginality, the sentence he used to cement his dramatic rise in GOP politics was first spoken 19 years earlier by a budding Barack Obama.

Like fellow Harvard alum Obama, Ramaswamy’s talent as an orator has largely fueled his rising popularity. Unlike Obama, however, Ramaswamy’s viewpoints — including support for immigration restrictions, denial of climate change and a militaristic foreign policy — are dangerously extremist, pandering to his fanatical, Trump-loving Make America Great Again fanbase. 

After founding a multibillion dollar pharmaceutical company, Roivant, Ramaswamy entered the turbulent world of politics with the release of his first book, “WOKE INC.,” a scathing attack on progressive ideas. His name was the #1 Google Search for 24 hours following the first Republican presidential debate as his name recognition skyrocketed, leaving him polling third in the primary.

Ramaswamy’s growing traction, especially in elite pockets with a high concentration of Indian Americans like Saratoga, can be explained by his eloquence in contrast to other Republicans. Unlike Trump or Georgia representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Ramaswamy can come off as reasonable and clear headed. 

While the GOP’s success in the last 7 years has drawn upon creating blunt personas with outrageous viewpoints that their voter base can relate to, Ramaswamy is a revitalization of the old, well-educated archetype of candidates. Yet, under this rebuilt facade of education lies the same extremist ideas espoused by other top Republican candidates — making Ramaswamy all the more dangerous.

The ugly aspects of Ramaswamy’s policy ideas are easy to ignore in comparison to his counterparts. Many Saratogans, though attracted by elitist economic policies like significant tax cuts — or in Ramaswamy’s case, a complete abolishment of the IRS — would find it unconscionable to cast a vote for unashamed racists like Trump. Behind Ramaswamy’s Ivy League words and polished demeanor, the same indiscretions are easier to ignore.

One of Ramaswamy’s most ambitious campaign promises is a complete dismantling of the Great Society programs started by Lyndon B. Johnson. The Great Society includes now foundational programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Though proposals like these may be attractive to the wealthy, Ramaswamy’s suggestions have significant potential to destabilize systems that support countless lower-class and middle-class families nationwide. 

Along with supporting policies that cater to the top 1 percent, Ramaswamy’s unabashed embrace of his Hinduism is a source of pride for many Indian Americans — despite his xenophobic foreign policy. Importantly, though Ramaswamy is himself a birthright citizen, he advocates for ending birthright citizenship and restricting visas, both of which would hurt Indian immigration.

For some, the idea of an Indian American candidate is exciting enough to garner support regardless of his politics.

“Many of my family friends support Ramaswamy despite his abhorrent policy because he’s an outspoken Indian,” junior Akshat Bora told me.

Bora’s observations are echoed throughout Saratoga and the Bay Area. Ramaswamy has even received praise in India, with prominent newspapers like The Times of India and The Hindu running stories expressing policy-blind support. 

To support Ramaswamy due to his heritage or Reagan-esque economic policies requires an inability to acknowledge the dangers he poses.

With regards to foreign policy, Ramaswamy is a dangerous loose cannon as well. He advocates for militarizing the southern border and using drones on civilian populations in order to quell the flow of refugees. Ramaswamy has even suggested sending troops into Mexico, which would disrupt a 106-year peace with a steadfast ally. Ramaswamy purports to be tough on Russia and China, yet advocates for fiscally and militarily abandoning Ukraine and Taiwan.

The list of disturbing pledges goes on: Domestically, Ramaswamy claims that members of the LGBTQ+ community are mentally ill and vows to pass restrictive laws. He also pledges to abolish all “woke” climate policy and “Drill, Frack, and Burn” indiscriminately. 

Ramaswamy also swears to dismantle the Department of Education, enforce civics test for voting and increase the voting age to 25. Civics and literacy tests have not been used in the U.S. to prohibit voting since 1965, before which they were used to suppress minority voting power. In both his assault on education and on voting rights, Ramaswamy expresses disdain for the next generation and brazenly and unapologetically attempts to cripple Democrats.

In addition to his shaky policy ideas, Ramaswamy supports fringe conspiracy theories including the involvement of the government in events like the 9/11 attacks and January 6th. Ramaswamy has gone so far as to assert that he, in the place of Mike Pence on Jan. 6, would not have certified the results of the 2020 election (even though Pence had no such power in the first place).

From every perspective, Ramaswamy is, undeniably, a far right extremist, paralleling and even exceeding opponents that most Saratogan voters have fiercely disavowed. Yet unlike boorish former president Trump, infamous for spewing creative obscenities at his opponents, or Florida governor Ron DeSantis, ridiculed for his social ineptitude, Ramaswamy presents a competent human face for the same poisonous MAGA ideology.

Though Trump, the frontrunner, was absent from the first two presidential debates, he seemed to live vicariously through Ramaswamy who took on the role of a dutiful lapdog, protecting Trump from the numerous jabs coming at him.

Beyond the promise of tax cuts, beyond Ramaswamy’s Indian heritage, beyond the veneer of flashy slogans and strong words, voters must remember that Ramaswamy is, at core, a fanatical extremist who should be soundly rejected.

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