Vivek Ramaswamy’s political narrative revolves around his aspiration for the American Presidency. Advocating anti-woke sentiments, he challenges the prevailing elitist culture, distinguishing himself as an entrepreneurial outsider. His stance on issues like immigration, Ukraine, and the Israel-Palestine conflict showcases a pragmatic approach, emphasising the need for strategic balance and national interest.
If all the scenarios align favorably for him, it can be supposed, in the context of the US elections, that individuals like Vivek Ramaswamy should be elected as the most powerful person on Earth-namely, to the American Presidency. He is young, energetic, and an Ivy League product, with his book “Vivek Woke Inc” serving as a draw similar to the MAGA credo of Donald Trump. However, it remains uncertain how much financial support he can amass for his election spending kitty. Another Republican aspirant, De Santis, uses the word “Woke”, but candidate Vivek brandishes his intellect against style, fads, and woke leftism.
The core element of what Vivek stands for is anti-elitism, aligning with his credo of being an entrepreneur and an outlandish outsider. This stance makes him a favourite after the candidature of Trump. Like Trump at the beginning of his first presidential campaign, Vivek postulates the still-hazy tenets of anti-elitism. In this regard, white-collar intellectualism of the armchair variant and the related cannibalistic influence of the “corporate” are criticised, ridiculed, challenged, and avidly propagated against by candidate Trump. Vivek similarly emphasises this anti-elitist perspective but does not play to the confetti-clad gallery as much as the big-speaking but still effective former President, Trump.
Woke is a term that has originated from African American Vernacular English, signifying a state of awareness against injustice, racial discrimination, and other societal, national, and political biases, including issues related to sexism and LGBT rights. It gained prominence, particularly in political and ideological discourse, in the 2010s-a period during which candidate Vivek was navigating the intellectual, political, and academic landscape of the Ivy League in the United States.
According to Connor Murray’s article in Forbes, “Woke” is now widely recognised as a negative political buzzword, often used to criticise anything perceived as too liberal or progressive. This includes brands that support Pride Month, the upcoming Little Mermaid live-action film, and the inclusion of race-related topics in school curricula. However, the word has a lengthy history, originally conveying an awareness of racially motivated threats.
Vivek also electorally militates against woke Leftism, wherein he adopts a rebellious course of action and proposes policy formulations aligned with a modern Republican entrepreneur-ideologue. Vivek excitingly defines his anti-woke stance, eschewing forced respect and acceptability for a condition where a US university sophomore wakes up to imagined or real racial and sexual diatribes. In this narrative, a suffering minority is expected to be part of the collective disturbance in the human and national psyche.
Vivek asserts in his writing the need to be aware of the Eureka movement of “wokism,” as it aims to usurp the hierarchy of accepted systemic mores and seeks to turn it topsy-turvy.
It is this modern-day entrepreneurial revolutionary zeal that positions Candidate Vivek’s presidential campaign and his entire candidature at the electoral center stage. Of course, his Indian origins bring him closer to the Indian political and societal imagination.
The American national daily, The New York Times, recently reported that “Ramaswamy himself owns valuable investments in many companies that have embraced environmental, social, and governance principles, known as E.S.G. — the kinds of ‘woke’ corporate practices he decries — according to a financial disclosure filed with the Federal Election Commission that was released on Friday.”
Most of the corporations in which Vivek holds a stake are well-known names and prove instrumental in popularising his candidacy for the American Presidency. Some of these corporations, particularly in the biotech industry, have been at the forefront of societal, human security, and economic-environmental causes in the American business landscape.
Candidate Vivek holds investments in companies such as Lockheed Martin, Home Depot, Microsoft, and Waste Management, with many of them aligning with ESG objectives and principles. This, in turn, addresses the perceived gaps in Vivek’s campaign for the American Presidency.
Candidate Vivek has a slightly different take on the Ukraine war, contending that “Putin is bad does not mean that Ukraine is good.” He further posits that the United States establishment need not provide monetary and weapons assistance to the beleaguered Zelensky in Ukraine. According to him, Ukraine has banned eleven political outfits in Kyiv, and all television broadcasters have been conglomerated into one state-controlled channel and TV station.
Additionally, endemic corruption has acted as a bane for the Ukrainian nation. Doubts about the national loyalty of the Russian-speaking Donbas region in Ukraine persist, as it has never identified with Kyiv since the conflict broke out, and even before the outset of the war.
Business Today reports that “Ramaswamy, through his speeches, has also explained what he will do to tackle the crisis and not let Russia fall into China’s lap. In an interview with Fox News, the American entrepreneur-turned-politician said if elected as US President, he would propose freezing the current lines of control between Ukraine and Russia, making a firm commitment that NATO will not admit Ukraine, and lifting sanctions. In return, he stated that Russia would have to exit its military alliance with China.’
Thus, overall, candidate Vivek’s train of thought advances the notion that Russia must be discouraged from aligning with China if the balance of power is to be sustained in global politics and in the crucial strategic interests of the United States of America.
Immigration is also an engaging matter of concern in the American political landscape. Recently, Vivek vowed to end the concept and the attendant practice of birthright citizenship if he assumes the mantle of the American Presidency. As part of his immigration policy prescriptions, he has argued that he is willing to move beyond the right side of the election theme. In his speeches and campaign statements, he insists on supporting the concept of sanctuary cities in the Southern states of the nation and advocates for the militarisation of the Southern borders. However, he intends to go a step further in the abnegation process, aiming to deprive the progeny of illegal and undocumented immigrants from South and Latino America.
Following Elon Musk, Vivek highlights the issue of illicit immigration on the US-Canada border.
Similar to the standpoint of many individuals in the United States and the wider world, candidate Vivek supports the complete annihilation of the Hamas terror organisation through the utilisation of maximum force by the IDF (Israeli Defence Forces). Still, as we impatiently await the resolution of Trump’s court cases, if the legal outcome does not favour him, it could be anyone ultimately vying for the seat at the White House. Candidate Santis is also leading in numbers and stats, according to reports and polls that have finally reached us.”
(The writer teaches at International Relations and International Organisations, Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi)