The clear outlier on the debate stage Wednesday evening was Vivek Ramaswamy. He played Trump 2.0 on the scene by fiercely interrupting other candidates and constantly referring to himself as the “not bought by corporate money politician.” Ramaswamy’s strategy was clearly a nod to the front-runner of the Republican primary, Donald Trump, who also started his 2016 campaign by saying, “I’m so rich I can’t be bought.”
Ramaswamy might be the first candidate I’ve ever seen to imitate the ignorant arrogance of Trump and then quickly switch lanes and say, “I’m a skinny kid with a funny name,” clearly a nod to former president Barack Obama’s 2004 DNC speech where he introduced himself to the nation. But Ramaswamy’s policy plans, like Trump’s, are insidious; Ramaswamy wants to completely dismantle the foundations our country was built on.
Two of the most significant policy ideas Ramaswamy’s constantly been pushing—rescinding birthright citizenship and elevating the voting age from 18 to 25—reveal a profound commitment to overhauling fundamental aspects of our Constitution. It’s not just about trimming budgets and reducing staff; it’s about reshaping the very core of our founding document.
Yes, I know, the chances of Ramaswamy becoming the Republican nominee are slim. Every poll has him trailing Trump by over 30% points, with DeSantis in second place in front of Ramaswamy. And I know his ideas about changing the Constitution would be impossible.
The process of changing the Constitution is gargantuan. Ramaswamy would need a two-thirds vote of both Houses of Congress, and if two-thirds of the states request one, he would then need a convention to debate the new amendment. Then, Ramaswamy’s amendment would have to be ratified by three-fourths of the State legislatures, or three-fourths of conventions called in each State for ratification. I highly doubt someone with little experience in governing could put together the political and legislative strategy to accomplish a once-in-a-generation feat.
Regardless of his standing in the party nomination process or the possibility of the ideas he’s supported, it’s essential to acknowledge the radical ideology he’s pushing. This is because it indicates where a segment of the Republican party is heading. Republicans like Ramswamy want to sling a wrecking ball on the pillars of the government; they want to throw aside parts of the Constitution that have made our democracy stronger.
When Ramaswamy is talking about removing birthright citizenship, he’s specifically addressing the 14th amendment, which states, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”
This amendment was created because when the Civil War ended, Lincoln and Congress wanted to ensure that black Americans who fought for the nation in the war, many of whom were born in the South, would have the right to become citizens.
“Ramaswamy has adeptly embraced the anti-democratic undercurrents of the Trump era, taking it a step further by advocating for a complete reimagining of post-Civil War constitutional provisions.”
The attempted goal of this language was to expand the American identity and ensure that any born under the flag—black or white, man or woman, rich or poor—would become a part of the United States. Of course, it wasn’t till much later that legislation like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 cemented this idea in our laws.
At its core, the 14th Amendment, along with the 13th and 15th, also known as the Reconstruction Amendments, was Lincoln’s attempt to fuse our country back together after the Civil War. Ramaswamy’s radical ideas to remove these crucial parts of our nation’s doctrine show exactly where he wants to take the country. Ramaswamy doesn’t want to push the country forward; he wants to send the country back in time to the pre-civil war era, where racial caste dominated.
But even on a more unsettling front, if Trump does return to the White House, polls have Biden and Trump nearly tied, it would not be surprising to see Ramaswamy involved in the administration in some capacity. Hence, it’s imperative that we not only scrutinize Trump’s democratic threats but also recognize Ramaswamy’s potential to erode the very core of our nation’s values. Ramaswamy has adeptly embraced the anti-democratic undercurrents of the Trump era, taking it a step further by advocating for a complete reimagining of post-Civil War constitutional provisions. Especially right now, as the world watches, America cannot afford to look back; it can only move forward.