Let’s just stipulate that voters in our day-and-age don’t need a whole lot to completely disqualify a candidate from consideration for their vote, and the “dating game” that is the two parties’ presidential primary campaigns is more akin to a two-minute reality TV segment
with unanticipated questions from the audience than a months-long romance with multiple episodes and visits to each family to discover and clarify the bigger picture.
Such is (could be?) the case this year as conservative and Republican voters of late have seemingly met, “flirted” with, danced around and moved on – or are contemplating moving on – from several of the GOP candidates already. There’s former president Donald Trump in the contest, of course, but the ongoing “relationship” voters have with him is more like an on-again, off-again cohabitation that was once a fixed marriage but now appears more like a joining-together of convenience in some respects.
To be fair, many, many conservatives see their affinity for Trump as a firm commitment. Others… well, he’s steady and proven and anxious to do well for us, right?
At any rate, last week it was revealed that the “crush” of the moment, brainy liberty-touting newcomer and burgeoning idea-man Vivek Ramaswamy was a smidgen less than forthright on his past voting loyalties. To make a long story short, Vivek had previously indicated, upon being asked, that he’d first voted in the 2020 election, and that, prior to it, he hadn’t voted at all. According to reporting from the Washington Examiner, Ohio records showed otherwise, as Ramaswamy actually initially voted in 2004 as a 19-year-old, and that he’d pulled the proverbial lever for Libertarian Party candidate Michael Badnarik in that year.
Upon being called on the official records discrepancy, Ramaswamy owned-up to his previous memory lapse, labelling it a “throwaway vote” for a candidate he knew wouldn’t win (he admittedly was disgusted with George W. Bush and John Kerry at the time, a reasonable conclusion for a young man) and his attitude was typical of his detached generation’s antipathy towards politics.
Again, from the Washington Examiner, Ramaswamy explained, “I mean, the reality is, most young people in this country don't vote because they're not excited by the candidates that they see. And in my twenties, I was much the same way. Something changed for me when I became a father in 2020. That's when my first son was born. It just changed my perspective, to say that I'm not just going to passively sit aside just because I'm not excited by other candidates.”
If you’re there listening to a thirty-something presidential candidate providing this rationale for an action that he took on the spur of the moment nearly two decades ago, you’re likely to conclude, “Okay, not that big of a deal” and move on to concentrating on other aspects of the man’s pitch. Who among us hasn’t cast a vote or two in our lifetimes that we now regret, and we sure as heck wouldn’t want some nosy reporter perusing our voting preferences before we’d really even experienced life as a taxpayer and father (or mother).
Hear my confession: I once voted for Los Angeles Democrat Mayor Tom Bradley (later on “credited” with initiating the Rodney King riots in April of 1992). But I seem to recall Brad was running unopposed in that election, and this was the late 80’s when things in L.A. were still kind of “cool”. I also voted for the “Big Green” California ballot initiative when I was in college… not something I’m proud of!
Ramaswamy voting Libertarian (rather than Republican) in 2004 doesn’t concern me as much as the fact he didn’t vote at all the other times. Was this only in presidential elections, or had he participated in state and local ones? Does his purposeful avoidance of voting because he didn’t like the candidates reveal something about his more contemporary worldview?
I think most of us can agree that nothing good can come from not voting. It’s kind of like you can’t get better at something by not doing it or not practicing it. If that were the case, my golf game would’ve progressed to PGA Tour level by now.
Since we’re on memory lane here, there was an election in the late 80’s or early 90’s (not the ones referenced above) where I’d told my dad that I didn’t intend to vote (might have been a primary election, not sure) and that “choosing not to vote is just as reasonable as casting a ballot for someone you don’t know or don’t like”, from which he read me the fatherly riot act about doing my civic duty and “how many men died for this country to grant you the right to determine your leaders,” – and that even among two bad candidates there’s usually one who’s marginally better than the other, etc.
Which is the philosophy I’ve adopted ever since. Ramaswamy’s reasons for not voting prior to 2020 aren’t very strong, in my opinion. The fact that he’s admitted to the negligence earns him credit for honesty, but what does it say about a person who, again, by choice, stayed away from performing his civic duty simply because he didn’t take to the candidates offered in the individual elections? How many other Americans like Ramaswamy – extremely smart, productive, positive in pretty much every way – don’t vote because of the same or similar justifications?
This nation suffers from a crisis of disengagement, particularly good people sitting by watching as the miscreants, sinners, criminals – and elites -- tear at the under-fabric of American culture. Voting is one of the means to help fill the leadership void. Well-informed people who don’t vote are hurting all of us. No well-informed person would ever vote for a Democrat unless they actually like what’s going on in government today, which is a grand rip-off scheme of epic proportions led by broken-down corrupted rulers who wouldn’t know the truth if it came up from behind and kicked them in the keister.
Voting isn’t a “choice” – it’s a duty to your neighbor and fellow citizen, because you take the time to make yourself aware of issues they might not be cognizant of and act on everyone’s behalf, not just sit on your haunches and “watch it burn”.
That being said, this voting issue does not disqualify Ramaswamy in my mind. Vivek is probably the most refreshing “outsider” in this year’s GOP presidential primary race, but for those looking for little tidbits of background that help separate candidates from each other, this episode doesn’t look good for him. And the media will keep digging and digging until they find other anecdotal evidence that every candidate isn’t worthy of being president, particularly the aggressive ones.
Because Vivek is so “fresh”, he’s tabula rasa for the media right now. And it might not be pretty.
As I wrote last week, the media smear happened to Herman Cain in 2011 and Ben Carson in 2015. The last thing a relatively new face like Ramaswamy wants is to be branded by someone who despises him (in this case, the always heinously unfair establishment media) regarding something from the past that’s hard to explain and bears no relevance on current beliefs or abilities to make forward-looking contributions to a government badly in need of real leaders.
It happens to every politician with legitimacy, especially Republicans. Remember George W. Bush and his college drinking accusations? Mitt Romney and the “hazing” that apparently took place in high school – or the infamous media story on the Romney family putting their dog on top of the family station wagon? Marco Rubio and his credit card issues? Donald Trump and “fat shaming” Alicia Machado? The list goes on and on.
Now that Ramaswamy is climbing in the polls (some even have him challenging Ron DeSantis for second place), he’s fair game for a thorough examination, logical or not. Whenever possible, he must avoid “stepping in it”. Did he do so again on the topic of UFO’s last week? The inimitable Paul Bedard reported at the Washington Examiner:
“Surging Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy is joining the millions who want the government to dish on what it knows about UFOs. ‘We can handle the truth,’ he said in a call for a full accounting of UFOs at a House oversight hearing [last] Wednesday.
“In a memo to Congress, bolstered by a similar note on Twitter, Ramaswamy proposed several questions for the hearing that focus on the possibility that the U.S. government has not been forthcoming about sightings. ‘Has there been an active U.S. government disinformation campaign to deny the existence of unidentified aerial phenomena. If so, why?’ he asked.
“It is unusual for political candidates to stray into issues such as UFOs, but as the military and Congress appear more willing to embrace the possibility that they do exist, it’s only natural that public figures follow.”
Queue the ‘Twilight Zone’ theme song in your head. Yes indeed, the UFO topic has become much more “mainstream” in recent times, especially after Tucker Carlson kind of took it under his vaunted wing, but this doesn’t mean it’s a prime target for someone running for president.
If I were advising Ramaswamy for his campaign, which, I suppose in a very, very minor capacity that I am here, I would tell him to ease off on the UFO talk until after he’s elected and has the ability to do something about it rather than be branded as the “E.T. Guy” or “Alien Dude” now.
Reputations, once established, have a way of following you the rest of your life. Ramaswamy is at the lower end of the presidential eligibility age scale, and his overabundance of intellect and solid ideas could be tarnished by those who would prematurely brand him as a young-ish kook who delves into “out there” conjecture and… gulp, conspiracy theories.
Vivek should home in on the reasons to vote for him, not provide excuses for small-minded critics to reject him.
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