A Schrodinger's douchebag is someone who says offensive statements and proclaims whether or not they were joking based on other people's reactions. A new politician has given the old-fashioned Republican Party (GOP) a brown face, but when you strip away his Obama-esque charisma, all you're left with is a controversial figure who stirs culture wars. Vivek Ramaswamy picks and chooses his identity, affiliations and views based on his audience.
Vivek Ramaswamy is not Donald Trump. He is not brash, his face is not comical and he acts professionally. While Trump comes from extreme wealth and inherited a fortune, Ramaswamy falsely presents as a “common man” and claims to be a child of impoverished immigrants. He represents the GOP's much-desired shift from the Trump era. Yet, his manipulative tactics make him more dangerous than our former president.
What sounds like charisma is often just pandering and mental gymnastics.
"He starts talking and doesn’t stop," wrote one POLITICO reporter.
Ramaswamy caught the attention of America through social media platforms, such as TikTok, with his witty arguments and fast speech, bearing a resemblance to other conservative commentators, like Ben Shapiro.
In the first Republican debate, Ramaswamy stated, "The reality is more people are dying of bad climate change policies than they are of actual climate change." A somewhat ambiguous yet extremely jarring statement, these claims portrayed by Ramaswamy as political facts allow the aspiring politician to make his 15 seconds last a little longer.
From raising the voting age to 25 (unless individuals serve in the military, as a first responder or pass a test) to eliminating the Department of Education, Ramaswamy seeks to enact a lot of sweeping change for someone who claims to be a traditionalist. Yet, by phrasing these archaic and gargantuan policy decisions through a conservative moral framework, he appeals to the biases of many Americans. Hitting all the hot-button issues, from trans rights to affirmative action to secularism, Ramaswamy knows what conservatives want to hear.
However, I've had trouble finding his opinions on tax reform, prison policy and healthcare. Maybe he just hasn't hit them yet. Maybe he's intentionally only discussing what stirs conservative Americans. Ramaswamy exploits issues that can be framed morally as opposed to politically, such as gender, race and religion. For those Americans who feel as if their traditions are under attack, Ramaswamy validates their bias, instead of helping them understand why challenging the status quo can be socially beneficial.
Ramaswamy also has fueled culture wars between Asian and BIPOC minority groups on affirmative action and institutional racism. He exploits his identity to denigrate other minorities and uses his financial and social luck to invalidate the experiences of other people of color.
For example, Ramaswamy previously stated at a campaign event, "reverse racism is racism.” Republicans often concur that white Americans perceive more racial discrimination than Black or Hispanic Americans. Ramaswamy is winning over a currently split Republican party with statements that appeal to prejudice.
My family is almost completely made up of registered Democrats. I was raised on progressive ideals about race, politics, welfare and other social issues. But for a while now, many in my family have felt that their voices as Indians, a minority group in the U.S., have been neglected. When my family discovered Ramaswamy for the first time, they were refreshed to see someone embrace their melanin and Hindu religion. But using his identity for convenience isn't cute and can stray immigrants away from their core values.
The rags to riches story Ramaswamy presents on television is questionable at best. He attended a private high school, graduated from Harvard and allegedly misled investors about a promising Alzheimer's drug whose trials had tenuous results. I fear Ramaswamy will alter the values that allowed my parents and other immigrants to thrive. His rhetoric will lead the populace to fall for policies that lack common sense solely for their novelty and flamboyant delivery.
As much as I'd love to see a brown president, I'd prefer one with actual beliefs and values instead of one whose platform is purely reactionary. Vivek Ramaswamy is an American politician capturing conservative and immigrant hearts but stuck in a high school persona: a Schrodinger's douchebag.
Neil Mahto is a freshman from Albuquerque, N.M. majoring in Neuroscience and English.