Vivek Ramaswamy is not my pick for POTUS 2024
Things may change, and 2028 is right around the corner.
I like Vivek Ramaswamy. Just 37, enthusiastic, very smart, full of interesting ideas, he'll keep the other candidates on their toes. Today, though, he is not ready to be president 18 months from now.
His patriotism is heartwarming. He clearly articulates his ideas. Some of his proposals, though, need refinement. His passion for this being a 1776 moment, and returning to first principles, for one. We don't need to start over. We already have a nation, a republic, a constitution, a Bill of Rights, volumes of founding documents, and almost 250 years of history. We need to believe in our strengths, identify our priorities, conservatively harness our resources to address them, and pull our wagon out of the mire we find ourselves in today.
In a recent conversation with Bret Weinstein, Vivek emphasized that his focus as president would be running the Executive Branch. He has set his sights too low.
Image: Vivek Ramaswamy. YouTube screen grab.
The president stands on the shoulders of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Ronald Reagan. The chief executive is also the commander in chief of our armed forces. Vivek says the presidency is not legislative. Wrong. It's true that he's not a legislator, but the president sends the blueprint for the entire government — its priorities, its size, its structure, its plans — to Congress every year in the form of the proposed budget. The president's senior staff works closely with congressional leadership to finalize the annual appropriation. In the end, it is the president who signs it into law (or not).
The president nominates all federal judges. The Executive Branch is often the party that raises issues to the Supreme Court, causing national debate on fundamental ideas among the people and, one hopes, bringing a constitutional resolution to thorny problems. Our branches of government, though their powers are separate, all belong to the same tree. They support and reinforce one another and provide checks and balances.
The president is expected to embody the concept of government of the people, by the people, for the people in all his dealings domestically and internationally. The people need to be first and foremost in his mind.
Vivek, unfortunately, said, "Not only most people, but most presidential candidates misunderstand the process of what it actually means to run for U.S. president."
A piece of advice? If you're asking for the votes of most of the people, don't tell them they are ignorant. A goodly number of us have been campaigning for our candidates, working on issues, voting in elections, and watching it on television longer than you have been alive.
Vivek's idea that the Twenty-Sixth Amendment should be rolled back particularly galls me. I was 17 when the 18-year-olds got the vote. Vivek was born 14 years later. Race riots and Vietnam War protests had riven the nation, inflation was starting to climb, and relations with OPEC were souring. Young people were very political.
In 1972, I worked on Nixon's campaign, was elected to office, judged elections, and certified the results for my precinct. As long as 18-year-olds can sign contracts, join the military, take out college loans, marry, pay far too many taxes (like the rest of us), and be considered adults, they should be free to participate fully in the processes that govern all of those activities.
Vivek proposed something that sounds as though he believes that rights should be earned. What else would you call a proposal that a citizen can earn the right to vote by passing a civics test and committing to national service? This desperately needs rethinking.
Vivek points out that he will not make campaign promises that he would lack the authority to keep. He promises to abolish some federal agencies and says he could do it without congressional intervention. See Andrea Widburg's excellent piece here.
Vivek proposes to take Department of Education funding to pay for security guards at every school. Nope — that's legislative. There are 131,000 K–12 schools in the U.S. From 2000 through 2020, there were about 39 school shootings a year. One is too many to bear, but funding school security is a local issue. School choice also must be left in the hands of the local people. Busting teachers' unions? I doubt that would be upheld.
Vivek wants to limit government bureaucrats to no more than eight years without defining "bureaucrat." Most senior decision-makers are already appointed by the president and serve at his pleasure. There are about 5,800 Cabinet-level agency and 2,100 other agency and commission appointments, with about 1,500 requiring Senate confirmation.
He proposes to use the military to secure our borders. Certainly, build the wall, but their job is not to enforce domestic laws.
Vivek has strong faith in America and some good ideas. He just needs a little seasoning. Twenty twenty-eight is just around the corner.
Anony Mee is the nom de blog of a retired public servant.