Vivek Ramaswamy Is Running For Prophet in Chief

By Paolo von Schirach —

WASHINGTON — Vivek Ramaswamy is an accomplished, self-made rich American. He made money in the pharmaceutical sector. The son of Indian immigrants, his academic and business accomplishments are another example of what is possible in America, assuming drive and motivation. Now Ramaswamy wants to be the next President of the United States; and so he is running for the Republican Presidential Nomination. However, as others already noticed, Ramaswamy is not just the token businessman in a fairly crowded field of professional politicians aspiring to get the GOP nomination at the end of the grueling primaries process. He is not out there to speak out primarily about the goodness of free enterprise, low taxes, small government, and the critical role played by savvy entrepreneurs in extending America’s prosperity.

On a mission to uphold values

No, Ramaswamy is on a mission to talk about values. Or lack thereof. His presidential campaign is an extension of a crusade against “woke” culture that he began a while ago with speeches, books and more. Right now, as a candidate for the GOP nomination, he is intent on (among other things) exposing the hypocrisy of many, if not most, US corporations. They formally endorsed –he claims– the language and the goals of the progressive left when it comes to ESGs, (Environmental, Social, and Governance issues), DEI, (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion), and all that, not because they really believe in any of this, but with the hope that by creating bogus corporate positions of DEI Director, while artfully dressing up their annual reports, and donating some money to the right causes they will be left alone.

Cowardly CEOs

According to Ramaswamy, corporate America, in its effort of trying to be clever, in reality is guilty of cowardice and lack of genuine belief in the values that made this country successful. Ramaswamy’s point is that no US company believes any of this main tenets of the woke culture. But the top corporate leaders are desperately trying to convince the public, the vociferous progressives, the media, and their own shareholders that they really, really believe in all the items on the woke agenda. Ramaswamy is on a mission to expose all this, while at the same reminding everyone about the true values that made America a world leader in business. Greatness, in business as well as in any other endeavor, comes out of effort, persistence, and self-sacrifice.

This should not be the focus of a presidential campaign platform

There is a lot more in Ramaswamy’s playbook. But you get the idea. His central message is all about America having lost its values, while the spineless corporate elites have joined (in bad faith) the anti-business chorus, so that they can be spared the grilling given to the villains.

Well, there is nothing wrong in advocating a healthy return to basic principles, while denouncing the political opportunism of those who pretend that they have joined the club because their annual reports list all they have done to promote transgender employees, and every possible “right” cause beginning with banning investments in carbon industries. As a US citizen, Ramaswamy has every right to advocate for “this” and against “that”.

That said, this crusade on values and the damage to our society caused by abandoning good principles in favor of what is culturally fashionable today does not belong in a presidential campaign. Ramaswamy’s campaign focus is about cultural and moral advocacy. Writers, preachers, educators, academics, columnists, and artists discuss these themes all the time. They have certain beliefs and they express them as best they can, trying to generate interest in what they say, hopefully changing people’s mind about what is right and wrong, moral or immoral, ethical and unethical.

But this should not be the main message of someone running for president. The president of the United States is not a priest or a prophet. His/her job is not to save souls by redirecting them towards the righteous path. The next president is someone who has the competence and the energy to run a vast, complex government. He or she will finetune this large public machinery so that America will be able to optimize the use of its resources, including the formation of high quality human capital, while making sure that government will support enterprise, as long as it is conducted within the boundaries of the law. There is a great deal on any president’s agenda. However, the list does not include preaching in support of the right moral values. The person who will be elected president will run an “administration”, not a church, a university, or a cultural association.

Values are essential in democracies

This does not mean that well-established republics are indifferent to values. On the contrary, good values are their indispensable foundations. But teaching values is not a government job. Teaching values is a precondition for the foundations of a solid republic and therefore this education effort is a necessary precursor to good governance. Here is the proper order of things: firmly planted good values first, well functioning democratic institutions to follow. Indeed, there can be no vibrant democracy unless basic values of integrity, personal responsibility, fairness, tolerance –the values Mr. Ramaswamy talks about– are firmly established and embraced by most citizens. Indeed, many Founding Fathers (John Adams, among others) stated that a republican form of government assumed moral citizens. In other words, any resilient form of self-government assumes that high moral standards are already well established and practiced by the members of the society. Any immoral democracy will not do well in the long term.

The Founders assumed moral citizens

The Founding Fathers did not engage in a political revolution with the intent of teaching the values and the principles that would sustain the republic. They began the revolution because they and their peers were driven by those values, while they assumed that most citizens of the brand new United States of America shared the same values. Their goal was to create the institutions that would affirm those widely held principles, this way allowing the citizens to practice them freely, under the umbrella of a republican constitution created for the protection of those values.

If we start from the assumption that most Americans lost their moral compass, then we have to look at the institutions tasked with teaching morality and ethics. That’s where the failings are, where the problems began. Bringing attention to our societal shortcomings, while providing recipes leading to remedies is a noble effort. But this effort does not belong to a presidential campaign.

Good public servants are moral citizens

A good president must believe in and be inspired by high moral values. He or she should be a living example of practiced morality and ethics. However, a president cannot and should not double as spiritual guide, minister or prophet. Good governance is intrinsically moral governance, if practiced by a moral person.

In the end, I am not criticizing Ramaswamy’s goals. I question the setting. Preaching the affirmation of values while pointing out issues that reveal moral decay is a perfectly legitimate endeavor. But it is not the job of the next president of the United States.

Paolo von Schirach is the Editor of the Schirach Report He is also the President of the Global Policy Institute, a Washington DC think tank, and Professor of Political Sciencand International Relations at Bay Atlantic University, also in Washington, DC.

, , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *