web analytics

What Vivek Got Wrong in Aug 2023

statue of liberty
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com


Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy was off to a very good start in building a valuable accumulation of respect and goodwill among members of the media and respect of party leaders from a wide political spectrum.

Vivek’s debate behavior on Aug 23 seemed to be out of character when compared to his numerous public interviews, speeches, and candid podcast/video discussions.

Instead of building up the party with positivity and working cordially with his party opponents, he laid out some strong criticisms. At one point during the debate he declared everyone but himself was bought and paid for by corporations and super PAC donors. This invoked booing from the audience among the supporters of everyone else on stage.

Vivek also seemed to be unable to follow the debate rules which was disrespectful to the moderators and the other candidates present. He frequently was talking over others and also taking more than his allotted time.

On his website, Vivek has a list of ten truths. Some will be perceived to be confrontational or antagonistic. It’s more likely that they are genuine beliefs and goals, and not intended as inflammatory statements on hot button issues. Below some of the truths and campaign issues are explored.

This document examines some emerging concerns about Vivek’s apparent change in tone and method.

For additional reading and context, see “GOP Leadership Report 2023.”

Big Oil

One of the ten truths professed by Vivek is that “Human flourishing requires fossil fuels.” That’s simply not a comprehensive perpetual truth. Humans can flourish by shifting to energy from multiple sources. There are other sources of energy such as relatively clean Natrium reactors.

In fact, human flourishing will cease if we’re overly dependent on fossil fuels. We need resilience and diversity when it comes to energy.

Undoubtedly his declaration is to offer a ‘tip of the hat’ to big oil, an industry that puts power and profits in the hands of a few. We need distributed energy production that distributes wealth opportunities.


Vivek states that “Capitalism lifts people up from poverty.” While that statement is sometimes true, it would be more accurate to say that capitalism lifts some people up from poverty. The unfortunate truth is that it sends other people into poverty.

For example, the 120,000 people impacted by the recent abrupt big tech layoffs are not being lifted from poverty. They are being thrown into poverty as a result of profit maximizing.

Capitalism is only one ingredient in a recipe for national success. Unchecked and unrestrained business activities are at risk of being exploitative of workers, consumers, and the planet. This has short-term benefits to some, but few long-term benefits to all.

What we need is capitalism that works for everyone. We need safe and economical products for consumers, not price hikes on insulin. We need safe workplaces and livable wages for employees, not efforts to erode employee prosperity and empowerment.


A repeated campaign promise was to be cordial to other Republican candidates which helps unify the party and enhance public opinion of the party. However, Vivek didn’t deliver on this promise during the debate which was a moment of high visibility.

This poor behavior could represent mean-spiritedness, disrespect, or a lack of interest in following rules. Whatever the cause, it’s unpleasant and ineffective.

An outsider is in an ideal position to praise the party and bring the party together. Vivek seems to have missed that opportunity in the first debate. Perhaps in the second debate he will make a course correction.


One of the “Truth” points of Vivek’s campaign is: “Parents determine the education of their children.”

In reality, only some parents may feel qualified or competent to make choices about their children’s education or choose homeschooling. This is why we have academic advisors. Few of us can help high school kids with advanced placement calculus homework.

Are some teachers, educators, and administrators in K-12 and higher education using their position of influence to promote their own political and social views? Yes. Are these problems systemic and institutional? Probably not. As with other professions, teachers reflect the diverse ideologies in our society with probably 50 percent being politically and religiously conservative and the other 50 percent being moderate and left of center.

Overall, we need to trust our teachers and educators. Most pursue the career because they want to teach kids and help them build a foundation for success. People generally pursue vocations based on a heartfelt desire to do good. People get into nursing to help people, or law enforcement to protect people.

It’s a good practice in life to delegate and trust others in society such as auto mechanics, doctors, scientists, and those who serve in government. Specialists can be a great resource for us to advance by leveraging the experience and skills of those who can help us.


One of the “Truth” points of Vivek’s campaign is that God is real. That’s likely to be a unifying declaration among religious voters.

The United States has long had a religious influence and leadership guided by faith. There’s no question about that. Yet, with religious plurality and freedom, there’s a responsibility to be inclusive of those who aren’t religiously observant.

Single-Parent Homes

One of the “Truth” points of Vivek’s campaign is: “The nuclear family is the greatest form of governance known to mankind.”

While family is important for many reasons, extended families, and intentional communities are also important units in society. When we think of governance, that usually involves families and individuals working together to solve problems and create well-being for as many people as possible. So, it’s not exactly accurate to say the nuclear family is the greatest form of governance. Families are not primarily a place of social governance. They are hopefully focused on growing loving healthy ethical people.

We’ve occasionally had a national discussion about single-parent households. Usually the discussion is tied to religious or political motivations.

The general talking points from conservatives regarding this issue:

  • Children become better adults if they grow up in a two-parent household with a father and a mother.
  • Unwed mothers were considered to be a result of promiscuity and moral frailty.
  • The absentee father crisis was seen as a cultural shortcoming of inner-city minority communities with irresponsible men.
  • Liberals tend to be more likely to live together outside of marriage, and will find it easier to break up for that reason, resulting in many partners and disruptive relationships.
  • In the LGBT community (prior to marriage equality), marriage wasn’t an option and thus relationships had no legal binding to promote stability.

There have been responses from the left to the above claims and points, including examples of LGBT relationships that last for decades without a marriage contract. Examples are given of successful children being raised in single-parent homes.

Ramaswamy brings an additional observation to this discussion, stating that women without a man are compensated by the government and thus are less motivated to find a man. There’s a subtle implication that women might choose to get pregnant and not get married because of the financial incentive.

So, that’s the context and background of the discussion. For those considered to be the targets of criticism, it’s a hurtful, harmful, and divisive claim.

Here are some of the problems with the criticisms of single-parent households:

  • COMPASSION — There seems to be a misunderstanding about social programs that help those in need. We certainly wouldn’t want to incentivize or promote single-parent households. A single mother or homeless person doesn’t choose those situations because of any lucrative opportunities for food stamps and assisted rent. Usually people have been through a hard time, and need some extra help. The compassionate thing to do is offer help and a path to a better life. Removing social programs and supports is just an act of cruelty. There must be a middle ground where people are given a hand up rather than a handout, yet receive support that can help young people access the education, mentoring, and resources they need to be confident adults.
  • OUTCOMES — There will inevitably be successful and happy adults who grew up in single-parent homes. Similarly, there will be adults who have addictions, failures, and behavioral problems who grew up in a two-parent home.
  • POVERTY — Typically poverty accompanies and precedes disruption to family units. Parents working multiple jobs to pay the bills may be more likely to have disagreements over money and spending enough time together. Raising the minimum wage might help in this regard, but the pro-family people are generally against paying a livable wage. Avoiding mass layoffs would help alleviate poverty, but those who place profits over people don’t care about the harmful outcomes of their decisions.

Vivek seems to claim that a two-parent household is the best environment for young people to grow up. He overlooks the value of extended families and intentional communities. He doesn’t consider those who are widowed, divorced, single, or other people that don’t fit his nuclear family definition. Some families have a parent serving in the military or working with a similar career that requires extended time away from home. We should not disrespect or demean those families. Every household and every person should be respected, valued, and seen as having potential for positive outcomes.


The greatest gift Vivek could offer would be to provide strong bi-partisan leadership that flourishes without creating confrontation within and between political parties.

For example, we need plentiful abundant energy sources. The topic of energy independence should not be presented as competing sides with contradictory goals.

Liberals are free to invest in and promote wind, solar, and hydro power. Conservatives are free to promote fossil fuels and nuclear.

Let there be an energy race that everyone can participate. Perhaps a partnership between nuclear energy enthusiasts and supporters of wind power would produce a solution not possible if people weren’t working together. Shared skills, research, and technology is better than competing antagonistic groups.

Many issues can be reframed in ways that unify people rather than creating division.

Vivek has the intelligence and ability to provide creative unifying solutions. Hopefully his handlers and partisan hacks won’t derail him for their own personal gain.

By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson is a freelance writer and tech consultant in Iowa City. He is also the founder and Director of the ResourcesForLife.com website. Learn more at AboutGregJohnson.com