Vivek Ramaswamy Assures Indian Americans He Will End Affirmative Action on Day 1 of His Presidency
- Saying that reservations and quota system have been a failure in India, he claimed they were the reason for the exodus of meritorious people like his parents to America and elsewhere.
Vivek Ramaswamy is a strict vegetarian. But when it comes to politics and policy he is all red meat. The ebullient Indian American candidate seeking the Republican nomination for the presidency minces no words when he says he wants to end affirmative action, shut down the Department of Education, ban teachers’ unions, replace the FBI and IRS, “annihilate” the Mexican drug cartels with military action at the southern border and enter into a confrontation with China. And he’d do all this with Executive Orders on Day 1 in the Oval Office. Mostly.
If these pledges sound outlandish with questionable constitutional implications, it really doesn’t matter as they seem to resonate with the base of the Republican Party, the same way Donald Trump did in 2015 when he declared most Mexican illegal immigrants are rapists, and some are good people. And it seems to pay a dividend considering that the 37-year-old Ramaswamy is gradually inching up in opinion surveys. He is currently at an impressive 5 percent in New Hampshire, the first state to hold a GOP primary. Nationally, he is at 4 percent, which is not something to sneer at considering that he has tied with Nikki Haley, a seasoned candidate with greater name recognition, and scoring better than other declared candidates like Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott.
What’s making this political novice who never ran for elective office tick? In a primary season when most aspirants are trying to get some traction by out-Trumping Trump, but without his burlesque baggage, Ramaswamy appears more authentic when he declares his admiration for the former president’s America First agenda but affectionately attacks him for not going the whole hog. “I’m in this race to take the America First agenda far further than Donald Trump ever did,” he declared at a campaign stop in New Hampshire recently.
Ramaswamy, who authored the bestseller “Woke Inc.: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam” is an outsider, and outrageously successful entrepreneur at a very young age (he is willing to spend $100 million on his campaign), visibly intelligent, clinically articulate, and infectiously confident and unlike other candidates he presents his policy ideas in pithy sentences without sounding wonky. While most of his positions are not new — most of them have been pet GOP themes forever — he makes them sound as if he conceptualized them all by himself. And most of his positions — from affirmative action to unions to emphasis on merit and handwork —are dog whistles against African Americans, which goes down well with conservative white audiences he has been increasingly attracting on his campaign stops.
For altogether different reasons, however, some of his views, certainly not all, might resonate with a majority of his Indian American compatriots. In a Zoom conference hosted by Indiaspora earlier in the week, Ramaswamy spoke at length about bringing back “meritocracy” and ending the “quota” system to a presumably receptive audience, saying that Indian Americans are victims of affirmative action policies. He claimed that there is a 400-point differential between Asian and Black applicants in admissions to elite universities. Saying that reservations and quota system have been a failure in India, he claimed they were the reason for the exodus of meritorious people like his parents to America and elsewhere (his father is a patent lawyer and his mother a physician). Repurposing an old Republican orthodoxy, he said that Blacks were better off during the 1960s when they were entrepreneurial and lived in two-parent homes, even if socioeconomic data does not support such claims.
A father of two young children, Ramaswamy was quite animated about family values which resonate with his Indian American audience as much as they do with evangelical Christians. He saw a correlation between the success of the community and their stable families with “two parents,” at once conflating the reasons for the break up of Black families with their socio-economic marginalization, a controversial thesis since the publication of “The Negro Family: The Case For National Action” by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, which examined black poverty in the United States nearly 60 years ago.
The question now is how far Ramaswamy will go in his presidential quest. Unlike Nikki Halley, who according to most estimates will position herself for the number 2 on any nominee’s ticket, Ramaswamy cannot count on it given his total lack of electoral base. While his immense wealth will afford him to stay in the fray for a long time, he will still need to do better in the polls to hang his hat in the Republican debates. In fact, he is counting on his ability to reach the debate stage to propel his candidacy. Unfortunately, the frontrunner ensconced in Mar-a-Lago is threatening not to participate in debates, depriving the challengers like Ramaswamy, who is well-positioned to impress the viewers with his near “messianic appeal for a spiritual and social renewal” of the country.