He’s not Trump, yet he’s running an incredibly populist campaign. He’s not DeSantis, but by the way you’d look at current polling, you’d think he were the biggest up and comer to take a shot at the GOP nomination in 2024.
This man is Vivek Ramaswamy, the child of Indian immigrants who became an entrepreneur, conservative author, and one of the biggest dark horse candidates to jump into the race to be the Republican’s chosen warrior against Joe Biden in 2024.
He’s odd because he’s playing a strategy that the white collar consultants in Washington D.C. are telling Republicans like Tim Scott and Nikki Haley to stay away from– a loud populist message.
Why is this working when all the ‘smart people’ say this would be a disaster? Isn’t this just running a Trump-lite campaign?
As the nation heads into a presidential election year with the Republicans wanting to once again take control of the White House, a populist, culture-oriented non-politician could pose a significant threat to mainstream political candidates. The shift in voters’ preferences can be attributed to a mix of social dynamics and political frustrations.
Firstly, many Americans feel overlooked by the political establishment, disillusioned with what they perceive as out-of-touch career politicians who fail to address their daily realities. A non-politician riding the wave of populism might be seen as a refreshing change.
It’s hard to argue for some whether Trump is still the outsider now like he was in 2016. He pushed the vaccine, was silent about lockdowns, gave us Fauci, and in the midterms made everyone think Kevin McCarthy and Lindsey Graham were stand up guys. Not very easy to defend that stuff this go around.
Either way, such a candidate can tap into these feelings of disenchantment, positioning themselves as an outsider fighting against a self-serving system as Ramaswamy has.
Secondly, culture-oriented platforms have a distinct appeal to a significant portion of the electorate. Many voters, particularly conservatives, feel that traditional values and cultural identities are under siege in the current political climate. A candidate focusing on these issues, celebrating and defending cultural traditions, can engender strong loyalty and pull voters away from mainstream candidates seen as less committed to these values.
Furthermore, a populist approach can be highly effective in a political environment marked by heightened polarization and economic uncertainty. A candidate who champions the needs and interests of ‘the common man,’ and speaks in a language that is direct and unfiltered, can be particularly appealing. The desire for policies and leaders that prioritize everyday Americans over political maneuvering and bureaucratic complexity can drive significant support towards a populist candidate.
In essence, a populist, culture-oriented non-politician can draw support away from mainstream candidates by capitalizing on a widespread desire for authenticity, cultural recognition, and a break from traditional politics. This might not be new to some of you familiar with my work, but this is still reality altering for those who fail to see past the current election, and look at the last few elections as a whole to understand where we truly are.
This approach strikes a chord with voters feeling sidelined, offering them a candidate they can identify with and who, in their view, stands up for their interests in an increasingly complex political landscape. Trump takes it for granted, DeSantis isn’t taping into it, and as long as Ramaswamy doesn’t drop the ball, he’ll keep moving onward in the polls.