Home » Ramaswamy on a Rift – The American Conservative

Ramaswamy on a Rift – The American Conservative

by John Jefferson
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“Do we, as America First conservatives, really want to be handing rogue agencies like the CFPB more power? The National Libertarian answer is simple: hell no. The right answer isn’t to give the CFPB more power while admonishing it for abusing the power it already has; rather, the right answer is to shut it down.” So said Vivek Ramaswamy in one of the most interesting and substantive speeches at NatCon 2024 in Washington, D.C. It wasn’t a stump speech; rather, it pointed out a substantive difference in policy prescription within the emerging and arguably most powerful segment of the right. 

Ramaswamy’s point is simple. Everyone agrees that the neoliberal consensus has failed. What now? The prescriptions, according to him, range between more government and less government. 

“My goal is to illuminate a brewing intellectual rift between two camps in the America First movement that hasn’t really yet been explored,” he said. “The first is what I call the National Protectionist direction, and the second is what I call the National Libertarian direction. Both reject the old neoliberal consensus on foreign policy, trade, and immigration—but for different reasons, particularly on trade and immigration, and with very different implications for the future direction of the America First movement.”

Per Ramaswamy, in order to tackle the Habsburgian bloat in the government, the answer shouldn’t be adding to the bloat even further, which, at best would create a massive equilibrium in the government bureaucracy, and cult of experts, with continuous power over the working class; and at worst, will see even the new fresh cadres of right-wing bureaucrats co-opted to the cause of the left. For a historical appreciation of this thesis, look no further than the national security bureaucracy expansion under George W. Bush, and where that project ideologically stands now. 

This sets him in sharp contrast to the Josh Hawley and Oren Cass faction of the NatCons: “National Protectionists believe in reshaping and redirecting the regulatory state to advance policies that improve the plight of American workers and manufacturers. By contrast, National Libertarians believe the only way we are going to improve the plight of America, including our workers and manufacturers, isn’t by reinventing the regulatory state; it’ll be by dismantling the regulatory state.” Less Teddy Roosevelt, and more Calvin Coolidge. 

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