So Much for the Constitution
Vivek Ramaswamy is continuing his assault on the United States Constitution as a way of attracting attention to his presidential campaign. In a speech on Wednesday, he announced his proposal to get rid of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Department of Education; and the Food and Nutrition Service. In his speech, he suggested he would cut the federal workforce by as much as 75%, which would also mean deep cuts in other agencies where even more federal workers are employed; nearly 60% of federal civilian workers work in the Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security, so while Ramaswamy didn't propose abolishing those agencies, presumably they would be slashed as well.
So much for background checks, student financial aid, special education, food safety, regulation of nuclear power, interstate crime and bank robbery -- and the list goes on. Ramaswamy said he would move some of the functions to other agencies, but he didn't say what or whom or how.
But that's the least of it. His plan is to do all of this unilaterally -- without Congress. In other words, forget about the Constitution.
So much for separation of powers. So much for checks and balances. These agencies are created by Congress and subject to congressional oversight as well as executive supervision. Vivek Ramaswamy is not running for president; he literally wants to be king. His platform is shredding the Constitution. He is taking "Trumpism" to its crazy extreme in an effort to dismantle what he calls the "deep state." And he makes no bones about it. "We will use executive authority to shut down the deep state," Ramaswamy said on Wednesday at the America First Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. His campaign produced a white paper denouncing what they considered the "myths" about limits on executive power.
Constitutional scholars were quick to denounce Ramaswamy's proposal as fantastical and to suggest that he was totally ignoring the Constitution. For his part, the candidate made clear that he welcomed the controversy; indeed, that seemed to be the point. "We're going to get a lot of pushback to this speech," he said. "I have no doubt about it."
Ramaswamy's proposal -- indeed his whole candidacy -- raises the question of exactly what he is doing in this race. Is he really running for president of the United States? Are we supposed to take him seriously as a candidate? Or is he there to prove that he is the smartest student in the class, the one student who always has his hand up with an answer, one more outrageous than the next, in an effort to draw attention, to push the envelope, to steer the debate to places where it has no business going? If it's all just a sideshow, it's a potentially dangerous ego trip, at best. Blaming federal workers for all the ills of our society, and shredding the Constitution in the process, is a poor excuse for presidential leadership. There are values that should unite us across party lines, and candidates like Ramaswamy, in ignoring them, make a mockery of what should be a serious and high-minded process in a democracy.
Ramaswamy, who is 38 years old, has positioned himself as the future of the Republican Party. I couldn't help but remark on the fact that he gave this speech on the same day that Mitt Romney, one of the Republicans who I most respect, announced that he would be stepping down to make way for new, younger leadership in the party. If this is the direction of the new, younger leadership, then maybe what the party really needs is the more experienced leadership of the Mitt Romneys and the Mitch McConnells who believe in the Constitution and the role of Congress.
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