Vivek Ramaswamy left the presidential race the way he effectively entered it: as a supporter of Donald Trump. The 38-year-old businessman endorsed the former president as he suspended his campaign last night, calling Trump “the best president of the 21st century.” That may not sound like high praise—there have been only four presidents this century, unless you count not quite three weeks of a lame-duck Bill Clinton—but given that Ramaswamy was just 15 when the century started, I’m sure it was a sincere compliment.
Ramaswamy is an ex-libertarian—he voted for Michael Badnarik in 2004, so that’s at least one skeleton in both of our closets—and he thus had a better sense than most politicians of how to effectively address libertarian audiences. Maybe because of that, I sometimes heard from anti-statist sorts that they liked him best of the GOP options. And to give credit where it’s due, there were times when Ramaswamy seemed like the only person in the field willing to speak some impolitic truth. It’s just that he mixed those truths with some of the most godawful positions you could imagine. He had more anti-war impulses than the other Republican candidates, but he also was willing send the military to Mexico. One moment he might defend the free speech of pro-Palestinian protesters; the next he might be ready to ban a whole internet platform. If a debate moderator asked the candidates what color the sky is, Ramaswamy might be the one person on the stage willing to declare it blue, but then he’d probably add that the sun has green and lavender stripes.
I never felt the pull of the Ramaswamy movement myself—besides the authoritarian and just plain kooky elements of his platform (did I mention that he wants a border wall with Canada?), his onstage manner was annoying, like someone had somehow crossed Tracy Flick with Wayne Allyn Root. If you liked him better than the available alternatives, that surely says more about how dispiriting these choices are than something good about Vivek Ramaswamy. Anyway, he often felt more like an unofficial Trump surrogate than a real candidate.
Well, now he can be an official surrogate if he wants. And if Trump returns to the White House, he can be the Secretary of Podcasts or something. The man clearly has a future, in the sense that we all do.