Oh look, billionaire Republican presidential contender Vivek Ramaswamy made news. Oh look, it's for something cringe again. Oh look, Republicanism is just a collection of conspiracy theories stuffed into a burlap sack and paraded through town on a flatbed truck. Oh look, now it's headed right for us.
An Atlantic article profiling Ramaswamy is making news for one particular tidbit in which the gadfly narcissist brings up a conspiracy theory old enough to buy liquor, insisting, "I think it is legitimate to say how many police, how many federal agents, were on the planes that hit the Twin Towers. Maybe the answer is zero. It probably is zero for all I know, right?"
What a clever little ploy not at all diminished by being the same ploy every bullshit artist uses to put forward their favorite conspiracy claims under the banner of "just asking." The answer to Vivek's question turns out to be a big fat zero, which has been known for two decades now. Unless, of course, you are a clown performing a very particular act, one in which you publicly wonder whether the The Elites were lying about that all along—part of a grander conspiracy that would no doubt come to light if it turned out that even one passenger on even one of the hijacked planes once correctly spelled "Federal Bureau of Investigation" on a high school civics test.
It's just so, so damn tiring. Ramaswamy is just so utterly uninspiring, even as a gadfly. He writes a book condemning wokeness purely as a stunt. He runs for president purely as a stunt. The man seems bent on boring us all to death while he preens for public attention. The point of being a gadfly candidate is to bring something new to the table. Ross Perot brought charts, Vivek–what have you got? And 9/11 conspiracy theories old enough to vote don't count.
Another mini-profile of Ramaswamy today also suggests the candidate’s vapidity but adds a genuinely interesting little tidbit. ABC News reports that on throwing his hat into the Republican presidential cesspit, Ramaswamy told "conservative operatives" that his candidacy could dissuade Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis from running for president himself, or at least damage him as a candidate.
On one hand, that is an oddly specific reason to launch a national political campaign. On the other hand, going to extravagant, eye-wateringly expensive lengths to personally screw with DeSantis is among the most relatable motives any of us could ever come up with. Who among us would not, if we had a billion dollars in the bank, be tempted to spend an eight-figure sum on making DeSantis feel bad?
Still, though, Vivek could have just written a book titled "Ron DeSantis Sucks" and used his wealth to mail out copies to every library and bookstore in the nation. It's baffling how much work some billionaires will do to make sure they have as much public attention as it's possible to buy. Dude, just buy a private island and a gold-plated Xbox and live your best rich guy life. Leave the rest of us out of it.
We pride ourselves on offering up free advice to ambitious Republicans around here, however, so here's my advice for Ramaswamy: Make Wednesday's debate your swan song. Bow out with a bang. Take the advice you gave to that audience in Iowa when you rapped along to Eminem’s “Lose Yourself”: You only get one shot. Stand up on that stage, say the only reason you ever ran was to mess with DeSantis and wreck his campaign, and then announce that since Ron already wrecked his campaign good and hard and without any of your help, your goal has been accomplished and you're leaving the campaign.
Also, fly everyone in the audience to an all-expenses-paid vacation to Walt Disney World in Orlando on your own dime, but only if they all wear matching “Ron DeSantis Sucks” T-shirts. Boom, campaign done.
American political parties might often seem stuck in their ways, but they can and in fact do change positions often. Joining us on this week's episode of "The Downballot" is political scientist David Karol, who tells us how and why both the Democratic and Republican parties have adjusted their views on a wide range of issues over the years. Karol offers three different models for how these transformations happen—and explains why voters often stick with their parties even after these shifts. He concludes by offering tips to activists seeking to push their parties when they're not changing fast enough.
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