At the Moms for Liberty (M4L) Joyful Warriors National Summit, all presidential candidates were not created equal. From Asa Hutchinson to Nikki Haley to Ron DeSantis to Donald Trump, the reception varied from polite attention to fawning adoration. But the lone barnstormer, who met with standing ovation after standing ovation, was newcomer Vivek Ramaswamy.
Moms for Liberty, a rapidly forming special interest group, may well have broken two land speed records. It’s likely the youngest organization to host five presidential candidates at a national event, as well as the earliest in its existence to headline the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of anti-government extremist groups. And, while all five of the presidential wannabes preened for the audience, none seemed so perfect a fit, as Ramaswamy.
In a speech Saturday, the 37-year-old alum of both Harvard and Yale promised to bring fundamental “truths” back to America. His truths aligned with the demands M4L has been making since the two-year-old organization grew past their initial grievances of mask mandates and school shutdowns.
The list? “God is real. Fossil fuels are a requirement. There are only two genders. The nuclear family is a form of government.”
The son of immigrants from Kerala in India, Ramaswamy also promised to “close the borders.”
At a hastily assembled press conference following his speech, the attorney, turned businessman, turned billionaire made additional pledges to abolish the Department of Education and “shut down the FBI.” Claiming 90 percent of the federal workforce to be unnecessary, he pledged to eliminate the drag those jobs place on the economy and put, “Americans first.” Adding, “I’ll end affirmative action in every part of American lives.”
In foreign policy, the isolationist millennial promised, if elected, to end the war in Ukraine by negotiating with Russia for the end of the Sino-Russian alliance – which he identified as the greatest threat America faces at this time. (He was unclear if that included abandoning Ukraine to Russian aggression if Putin promised to stop hobnobbing with President Xi).When asked what he’d do about China specifically, Ramaswamy replied, “I don’t negotiate with adversaries. We don’t let our enemies make our shoes.”
As for the Americans who are downtrodden? Whether struggling to survive in inner city Baltimore (as one reporter characterized the poor) or as M4L co-founder, Tiffany Justice, labeled them during her onstage interview – families struggling to pay for eggs – Ramaswamy promised relief in the form of unbridled capitalism. The pharmaceutical magnate believes economic salvation comes from, “fracking, drilling and burning coal.”
Climate change denialism is at the core of his economic recovery plan. Ramaswamy, while seated next to his wife Apoorva Tewari and their two small children, criticized what he perceives as underwhelming economic growth in the United States. Ramaswamy pledged to quadruple the U.S. economic growth rate once he takes the brakes off the fossil fuel industry. This particular promise met with thunderous applause from an audience gathering in a city bathed in harmful smoke from forest fires burning nearly a thousand miles away.
Tewari, herself a scientist – practicing as a throat surgeon and teaching at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center – smiled as her husband pledged to implement policies that would hasten climate change and endanger her own children’s future.
Lastly, Ramaswamy reminded his audience that adversity is part of the human condition. He spoke of the hardships faced by his own parents when they emigrated to the United States. His dad, an engineer for General Electric, and his mom, a geriatric psychiatrist left their homeland three years before his birth. The presidential candidate downplayed the fact that his parents were already well-educated and successful when they left India. Ramaswamy did mention that one of his dad’s hardships, once in his adopted country was, “having to go to law school, nights, for four years,” while working at GE.
Too early to tell what candidates may rise to the top of the republican ticket in 2024, Ramaswamy is not a household name, yet. But if M4L have their way, that will change. Ramaswamy’s characterization of the U.S. as a nation of victims, and his proclamation this weekend that “victimization is a choice,” has ingratiated him with the far-right organization to which he has pledged his unwavering allegiance. Saturday, to prove that point, Ramaswamy declared Moms for Liberty, “My favorite hate group in history.”