Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy is obviously a long shot presidential candidate, but he’s refreshing. Unlike most politicians, he speaks clearly and seems smart.
He probably is smart. He went to Harvard and Yale and then founded a biotech firm that creates drugs that treat prostate cancer, endometriosis, fibroids and more.
That made me ask him, since he clearly helped people as a medical entrepreneur, why go into politics, when most politicians are useless or destructive?
“I am in this race to speak truth,” Ramaswamy says in my new video. “To revive our missing national identity.” Most Americans, he says, don’t know “We’re a nation built on the rule of law, free speech and open debate, that we embrace meritocracy over grievance, that we embrace the unapologetic pursuit of excellence.”
In other words, Ramaswamy is running as the “anti-woke” candidate. “Wokeness,” he says, “is a cultural cancer.”
I ask him about the border crisis.
“A nation built on the rule of law,” he answers, “cannot tolerate somebody breaking the law as their first act of entering this country.”
His parents came here legally from India. But our rules are tougher today.
“An Indian computer engineer who applied legally,” I point out, “would take 20, 50, 100 years to get in.”
Ramaswamy answers that there should be “‘merit-based’ immigration.” Skilled migrants should get preference.
What would he do about Social Security and Medicare going broke?
“Democrats say we need to increase taxes. Republicans say we have to make cuts. There’s a third way: restoring GDP growth … We will grow our way out of our problems.”
He’d speed growth by “abandoning the climate cult, drilling more, fracking more, burning coal unapologetically.”
“Coal is really polluting,” I point out.
“I don’t think it’s nearly as pollutive as the public narrative makes it out to be, especially with modern methods,” he replies.
He embraces nuclear power. “The very people opposed to fossil fuels are mysteriously hostile to the best-known form of carbon-free energy production, which tells you what’s going on.” The “climate cult” rejects nuclear power, he says, because it might be “too good at addressing their made-up climate crisis.”
Promoting free and open speech is one of Ramaswamy’s favorite issues. After George Floyd was killed, many company CEOs issued statements supporting Black Lives Matter. Ramaswamy refused because BLM criticized what it called the “Western-prescribed nuclear family.” A nuclear family is something Ramaswamy (and I) consider a good thing.
Ramaswamy’s refusal to endorse BLM brought pushback from some employees. Workers who agreed with him would only tell him privately. “This culture of fear had spread across the country. It prevented people from expressing themselves in public.”
Ramaswamy wants all ideas expressed, even those considered “misinformation” or “hateful.” “That’s part of what preserves peace in a diverse democracy.”
Suppression of speech, he says, leads to more hatred and outbreaks like the riot at the Capitol.
“I don’t think Jan. 6 happened because we had too much free speech,” he says. “It happened because we didn’t have enough.”
When people don’t feel they can freely say what they think, “people are left to just sort it out with sticks and stones.”
Ramaswamy’s new book, “Capitalist Punishment,” criticizes big Wall Street firms for investing your retirement funds in companies that claim to promote the environment or social justice.
I push back. “That sounds good! Americans agree that we should have a clean environment and be ‘socially kind.'”
Today’s ESG asset managers don’t do that, says Ramaswamy. Most just advance “progressive political agendas.”
Ramaswamy created his own investment firm, Strive Asset Management, which invests money in firms that simply maximize profits, without promising ESG magic.
“Your fund has higher expense fees,” I say, because a Forbes article claimed that.
“Drivel!” he replies. He says they write that because political insiders don’t like him. “It’s an ideological cartel. Defect from that orthodoxy, they will punish the defector. I refuse to stand by silently.”
I’m glad Ramaswamy refuses to be silent. America needs candidates who speak freely.
Every Tuesday at JohnStossel.com, Stossel posts a new video about the battle between government and freedom. He is the author of “Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media.”