AUSTIN PETERSEN: Vivek Ramaswamy could inherit Trump's MAGA movement

Al Sharpton’s superpower has always been his ability to stay relevant in events and elections that he has absolutely nothing to do with. This election is no different. When a clip surfaced of a then 18-year-old future Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy asking Sharpton a question on Hardball, people on the right thought two things:

1. What kind of diet did Al Sharpton go on to lose so much weight since 2004? And
2. Was Vivek a former Democrat? And what changed that made him a modern MAGA Republican?

The answer to the first question, at least according to ChatGPT, is that Sharpton apparently went vegetarian and pescetarian in 2021 as well as added some moderate exercise to his routine. The answer to the second question will have to be divined by me, seeing as Microsoft’s AI cuts off in September of 2021, just enough time for Sharpton’s weight loss.

Why would a guy who’s a MAGA Republican in the making support the party of George W. Bush? That’s simple: The Republican Party is in almost no way shape or form the party of George W. Bush anymore. The old neocon establishment’s last hopes reside in one Nikki Haley, who herself faces longshot odds to restore a regime whose credibility lies somewhere deep between the sands of Baghdad or Tel Aviv. Meanwhile, Trump’s MAGA foreign policy accomplishments sit firmly atop a gleaming new embassy in Jerusalem.

Vivek Ramaswamy like so many former Democrats, Trump included, may have found a home in the modern Republican party through the wave of populism that crashed into the GOP from the Tea Party years. A strong libertarian/conservative wave of resentment against both party establishments led to the rise of the Tea Parties after all. Many forget that the first major Tea Party rally was held while W. was in office. That libertarian populism didn’t recede as many had thought with the NYT’s storied “libertarian moment” of Rand Paul’s ill-fated presidential run. Parts of it morphed into the MAGA movement of today, with Donald Trump at the helm. That libertarian populist streak pushed out many of the pro-war scolding moralists, and had an antibiotic effect on neocons such as Bill Kristol and others who frequently cite it as the reason they left the GOP. But it would make way for many like Ramaswamy, who’s only warmongering declaration in the recent debate was that he would declare “war on the administrative state.”

That’s a line that would have sent the Tea Party movement into roars of approval, libertarians and conservatives alike. The Democrats under Obama became everything that they claimed to hate about the George W. Bush administration: Pro-war moralist scolds. Their bloodlust for war in Ukraine has far outmatched anything they ever accused W. of, considering that at least the idea of Iraq and Afghanistan was some twisted concept of self defense. And their new wokeism, which Ramaswamy has derided in his book Woke Inc., is increasingly turning off Gen Z voters who turned out in surprising numbers in the most recent midterm election.

So it’s no wonder that a young Vivek Ramaswamy would take a page from Churchill, and go from an 18-year-old liberal to a mature adult conservative. It’s because Vivek has a heart and a brain: both things that disqualify you from holding a Democratic Party registration card. And yet those qualities don’t prevent you from voting Democrat entirely however.

It remains to be seen if Ramaswamy will be able to cobble together enough of a coalition and movement to make him the heir apparent to the MAGA movement. Too many others are vying for that title that have a much bigger headstart than he. But if he continues on his current path of uniting disaffected MAGA Republicans eager for a future to their movement, and can continue to intrigue dedicated libertarian activists like myself with his calls to rein in the Deep State… Ramaswamy himself may help bring about that “libertarian moment” many of us have been looking for since Ron Paul 2008.  

Image: Title: Vivek Trump


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