He’s become famous, or at least a famous B-list presidential candidate. That’s good for the future of the podcast he started during this campaign and for other gigs and media projects prospects, as well as perhaps for a run in another office. The price devalued itself and made a mockery of the process.
As the campaign begins to reach a critical juncture, the next primary debate could pit Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley – a governor and former governor who hopes to become Donald Trump’s primary challenger with conflicting political strategies – and a troll running for the clicks and audience shares. .
Ramaswamy isn’t campaigning for president so much as running as Charlie Kirk, the Turning Points USA star who built an empire on MAGAish provocations.
Ramaswamy’s supporters may say he went further than a former vice president and sitting U.S. senator, which is true enough. However, both could have lasted longer if they had constantly sought to curry favor with MAGA influencers without regard to merits or self-respect considerations.
Ramaswamy has seemed as pro-Trump as Trump’s own children, railed against an establishment that barely exists, played football with conspiracy theories, and courted controversies – both righteous and stupid – to attract the attention of the party base.
It’s disheartening that such an astute and self-interested guy thinks this is how you rise in the Republican Party.
One might hope that running for president would elevate someone, at least a little, but Ramaswamy was surely more responsible and thoughtful when courting investors as a businessman rather than working the angles by as a presidential candidate.
He exudes such an aura of insincerity that one has the distinct feeling that if neoconservatism were still fashionable, he would happily surpass Cheney Liz Cheney. I am the only one on this stage with the courage and integrity to bomb Iran on day one.
There is an honorable tradition of hopeless candidates running to promote a cause: Eugene McCarthy and opposition to the Vietnam War; Pat Buchanan and populist nationalism; Ron Paul and 180-degree anti-war libertarianism; Bernie Sanders and socialism.
Sometimes these campaigns can have a real impact. McCarthy, of course, unseated a sitting president in 1968, and Sanders became an unlikely but serious contender for the Democratic nomination in 2016 and 2020.
What makes this kind of campaign admirable is the intellectual coherence and passion of the candidates, even if we don’t agree with what they say and even if their inevitable monomania becomes boring.
Since Ramaswamy himself is the constant cause of his campaign, no idealism adheres to his campaign. He owes more to TV greats like Billy Mays and Ron Popeil than to, say, Eugene Debs, the perennial socialist presidential candidate.
He is a follower, not a leader, because he desperately wants to be part of a pack that is not his own creation. He duly takes inspiration from MAGA thought leaders on social media.
His attack on RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel during the third presidential debate was typical. He took what a few influential MAGA voices were saying on X (formerly known as Twitter) the day after election night, and repeated it from the stage.
However, it is natural for the leader of the RNC to come under criticism after a disappointing election. Clearly, though, the biggest contributor to the Republican Party’s losing streak since 2018 has been Trump. He was the party’s leader and did more to define its contemporary brand than anyone, including the almost completely unknown leader of the RNC.
To attack her and not Trump is simply cowardly. Although McDaniel deserves an outsized share of the blame, she got her job as a creature of Trump and has been extremely respectful of his interests.
But one of the goals of Ramaswamy’s campaign is to avoid criticizing Trump at all costs. When it came to the question of whether or not Trump would show up for the debates, Ramaswamy said it would be terribly disappointing if he didn’t attend. Then, when Trump announced he wouldn’t come, Ramaswamy said he was all for it.
I thought a few months ago that there would be a Vivek moment, although it never really came to fruition. He got a lot of media attention, sure, but he remained in the single digits in the polls. Part of that is because he was a smartass jerk in the first debate. He completely changed course in the second debate to show some modesty, then he doubled down on his obnoxiousness in the third debate.
Another problem is that trying to be Trump doesn’t work for anyone not named Donald J. Trump.
Ramaswamy is Trump as high school debate champion; Trump without star power and without a sense of authority; Trump if Trump was trying to emulate another pioneering political figure to capture some of their magic.
Ramaswamy is an intelligent person and a talented marketer. He definitely has a future somewhere in conservative media. But his campaign was fundamentally cynical. The only consolation is that very few people fell into the trap.