Why Vivek Ramaswamy is the Future of the GOP
The debate showed us what's coming after Trump for the Republicans and it's not pretty
As I argued in a bleary-eyed post right after the debate, the big winner was Joe Biden. But among the people on stage, there is no question that Vivek Ramaswamy had the best night. He dominated the conversation on stage and during the post-debate coverage.
For many of the approximately 14 million people who tuned into the debate and the millions more watching clips on local news and social media, their first reaction was probably, “Who the hell is this guy?”
At the beginning of the race, Ramaswamy was a former entrepreneur who gained attention by becoming a regular on Fox News and ranting about “woke capitalism.” At the outset, his presidential campaign seemed like a lark — a vanity project to help him sell his next book or launch a podcast. But there he was, near center stage during the GOP debate, dominating more seasoned politicians.
Ramaswamy has been rising in the polls in recent weeks and, in some cases, moving into a statistical tie with Ron DeSantis for a distant second to Trump. It’s too early to know with any certainty how much the debate helped Ramaswamy’s campaign. The initial CNN focus group suggested that people thought Ramaswamy won the debate. In the FiveThirtyEight/Washington Post/Ipsos poll, 26% of respondents thought Ramaswamy won the debate. He vaulted himself into the national conversation and is now an existential threat to DeSantis et al.
Why Ramaswamy succeeded and how he got to this point is an instructive lesson in Trump-era Republican politics and an indictment of the other more seasoned candidate on stage last week. Ramaswamy understands what the others on stage did not.
1. The GOP Base Wants An Outsider to Destroy the System
To most of the Democrats and Never Trump Republicans tuning into the debate, Vivek Ramaswamy seemed like a rude, smarmy, arrogant jerk. He relentlessly interrupted and attacked everyone on stage. Ramaswamy is the person you avoid talking to at a party. He also seemed like a younger, more coherent Donald Trump, which was the entire point.
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