Vivek Ramaswamy Isn’t Always Right, But He’s Usually Interesting - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Vivek Ramaswamy Isn’t Always Right, But He’s Usually Interesting
GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy appears on CNN on March 12, 2023 (CNN/YouTube)

It’s a good thing, particularly at this stage of the 2024 presidential race, that entrepreneur and author Vivek Ramaswamy is running.

That doesn’t mean he ought to be the Republican nominee. It’s too early in the campaign to know that. Right now, the smart money is still very definitely on Donald Trump, and — truth be told — Trump is doing a lot better job acting like the nominee. More policy, less snarky shots at other candidates is Trump’s golden ticket.

But something Ramaswamy said shortly after announcing he was running for president was interesting — as his statements usually are — and quite correct. Ramaswamy said that before we decide the “who” in the 2024 race, we should spend some time deciding the “what.”

And if that would set in among Republican voters, regardless of our preference in a candidate, we’d be better off.

It’s not a shot at Trump to note that the movement he’s helmed since early 2016 is not a Trump movement. It was there before he came on the scene. It — populist “outsider” conservatism — goes all the way back to Ronald Reagan. It went into remission when Reagan’s vice president, George H. W. Bush, mounted a hostile takeover of the GOP in 1988 and proceeded to drive it into the ground, but it resurfaced in 1994 with Newt Gingrich’s Contract With America and the House takeover that spawned. It went back into remission when another Bush took control of the GOP and squandered eight years in the White House pretending to be a “compassionate conservative” while launching pointless overseas wars without victory, but resurfaced with the Tea Party movement in 2009 and 2010.

Then after the Obama administration suppressed it with IRS audits and other governmental abuses, it resurfaced as Trump’s base of support, and now, with the House Freedom Caucus’ successes, it’s beginning to finally drive the Republican Party as its active ingredient.

Ramaswamy clearly sees this, and his statements on the campaign trail indicate that he’s very Trumpian in how he sees the world. Specifically, Ramaswamy notes that “woke capitalism,” the kind of corporate abuse of the market one sees with Gillette, Coca-Cola, BlackRock, and Silicon Valley Bank, isn’t just a destroyer of wealth but of culture and politics, and he also recognizes that it’s a broken window that Communist China is crawling through as it seeks to replace America as the world’s dominant power.

That’s a level of geopolitical understanding that goes even beyond Trump’s then-radical take on China during the 2016 cycle. The intelligentsia thought he was crazy to make so much of our negative trade relationship with the ChiComs, but it resonated across an America growing more and more uncomfortable with the tradeoff of a blown-out industrial base in exchange for cheap, disposable goods from Walmart and Amazon.

In the aftermath of COVID, it’s important to restage the relationship with China not just as a matter of our supply chain, though that’s crucial, but with respect to cultural and political influence. Chinese communist tentacles are far more obvious in America today than Soviet influence ever was during the Cold War, and Soviet influence was a persistent terror on both sides of the political aisle then.

So if we’re talking about the “what” before we get to the “who,” this is obviously a huge piece of the puzzle.

It’s interesting, then, that Ramaswamy would have dropped this take over the weekend on a subject that is germane to the question of the interplay between culture, politics, and economics with respect to “woke capitalism” and the corporate sphere:

Entrepreneur and 2024 Republican presidential nomination candidate Vivek Ramaswamy said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he disagreed with how Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) handled his disagreements with the Walt Disney Company.

Host Kaitlan Collins said, “Given what you said about limited government, do you agree with what Florida Governor Ron DeSantis did with Disney after they spoke out about his education bill?”

Ramaswamy said, “I would have handled that situation a little bit differently. We need to be precise about what the real drivers are of corporate wokeism. One of the underappreciated realities is that Disney’s largest shareholders are Blackrock, State Street, and Vanguard. They are the three institutions that promote ESG environmental and social agendas and are the largest shareholders of most American companies. They set a tone that causes these companies to behave in politicized ways from their boardrooms on down. That’s a problem that needs to be fixed through the market. I don’t really believe in government, whether it’s on the left or right. You see this on the left, too, using the bully pulpit as a way to drive corporate change. I think the right way to drive corporate change is to do it through the root cause itself, and in this case, a lot of that is top-down driven by the ESG movement in capital markets and in corporate America’s boardrooms.”

Was he right? No.

And not just because you don’t go on CNN, with their cable-access-channel-sized audience, and talk badly about other Republicans. That can be somewhat excused because hey — he has to build name ID anywhere he can.

He’s wrong because while it would be nice to be right about the impropriety of using government power to counteract leftist cultural aggressions, we have a track record to look at where the alternatives are concerned.

And it isn’t good.

This is, to an extent, the old libertarian-vs-nationalist-conservative argument, and Ramaswamy is trying to straddle it a bit by saying woke finance drives woke corporate activism; and since the government is far more engaged in financial markets than other things, it’s more appropriate to push on BlackRock than the general corporate economy.

But Disney isn’t woke because of those hedge funds. Disney didn’t need their money to go woke. Without a dime of BlackRock’s cash, you’d be having this problem with grooming and racial arson coming out of that media empire.

And he’s also neglecting to note that it’s a different scenario when you’re talking about what a state government does as opposed to the federal government. Florida popping Disney on its special taxing-district privilege is much less debatable as an abuse of government power than the feds doing it, because Disney could sell its property in Kissimmee and open up Woke Mouse World in Joliet or Woonsocket if it wanted.

The Constitution, after all, is pretty permissive when it comes to state power.

Nonetheless, it’s a good debate to have. And Ramaswamy is at least not taking the part of the old National Review corporatist crowd, which indicates he doesn’t subscribe to the idea that putting the letters “Inc.” behind one’s name confers moral and ethical infallibility.

And Ramaswamy was pretty good on the Silicon Valley Bank debacle, noting that this “not a bailout” is a bailout:

What we need in the 2024 presidential race, especially on the Republican side because it isn’t possible to get it from Democrats, is interesting candidates with interesting ideas. That’s unfortunately not on offer from all of them — Nikki Haley, for example, has a few items that aren’t terrible, but, for the most part, she seems to want to run on an exotic ethnicity (which Ramaswamy shares but has very little interest in attempting to leverage) and the fact that she’s a #girlboss, as though anybody ought to care about that given how many horrendously awful female politicians we’ve been subjected to in the past couple of decades.

To close with a bit of hopeful news, Trump is beginning to look like an interesting candidate with interesting ideas as well. For example, he’s pushing “universal school choice” — which is reasonably interpreted as money-follows-the-child education funding, and he’s also talking about a parental veto of public school principals (meaning the parents could get together and vote to fire a ne’er-do-well principal), something that isn’t really actionable in federal law but could be a hell of an interesting check on woke aggression in K-12 education.

Ramaswamy would probably argue that the first of Trump’s ideas would make the second irrelevant, and a successful implementation of universal school choice might well make the market the driver of firing principals rather than a parental recall effort. But the point is that while we’re in the “what” stage, we ought to be kicking these ideas around and figuring out just what kind of party the GOP wants to be in 2024.

And it’s good to see some intellectual candlepower coming to the surface. There is none — nada, zip, zilch, bupkis — among the intersectional professional victims and identity politicians on the Democrat side.

Subscribe to The American Spectator.

Scott McKay
Follow Their Stories:
View More
Scott McKay is a contributing editor at The American Spectator  and publisher of the Hayride, which offers news and commentary on Louisiana and national politics, and, a national political news aggregation and opinion site. Additionally, he's the author of the new book The Revivalist Manifesto: How Patriots Can Win The Next American Era, available at He’s also a writer of fiction — check out his three Tales of Ardenia novels Animus, Perdition and Retribution at Amazon. Scott's other project is The Speakeasy, a free-speech social and news app with benefits - check it out here.
Sign up to receive our latest updates! Register

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: The American Spectator, 122 S Royal Street, Alexandria, VA, 22314, You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Be a Free Market Loving Patriot. Subscribe Today!