I Am In High School And Vivek Ramaswamy Alarms Me
By Abhishek Narahari
In mid-August, after I was elected President of my school’s student senate, I received a call from my grandparents in India. Having known my deep interest in politics, they congratulated me profusely. But towards the end, they punctuated it with an unsettling comparison: Vivek Ramaswamy.
As a young Indian American, the sudden rise of the Presidential candidate has been alarming. Unfortunately, many members of the Indian diaspora– both in the United States and back home– have celebrated him as a young, new face of leadership.
But this must be stopped.
Vivek Ramaswamy represents everything our community has struggled to overcome. For starters, some 70 years ago, Indians joined together and fought for the establishment of self-determination, the ability to form a democracy, and the right to vote. Yet he wants to take that away with his draconian proposal to raise the American voting age to 25, something that, if enacted, will chip away at the very ideals of democracy that have been so central to our community. Our ancestors protested and marched in an effort to secure the right to vote, so it would be an insult to their memory if we simply allowed them to be stripped away at our behest. Sadly, his harmful ideas don’t end there.
Even more shocking is his proposal to end birthright citizenship. Ramaswamy claims that this would halt illegal immigration. But don’t be mistaken– this will only further the plight of Indian Americans and thrust a whole generation of families into limbo. It is because of birthright citizenship that thousands of kids of Indian immigrants– including myself– have been able to enjoy the full rights of the only country we’ve ever truly known, and stripping that away would be a disgrace. For anyone even entertaining supporting Ramaswamy, I beg them to think of the consequences that could unfold if this fundamental American mechanism disappears. Indian American kids will be isolated from their classmates, unable to pursue a life in their home country once they become an adult, and stuck in wrenching uncertainty throughout their childhood. This would be a gut punch to our community.
And those are only his domestic policies.
On the world stage, he’s even more alarming, calling to defund U.S. efforts to help our partners in Ukraine and Taiwan. This would be an unmistakable signal to our adversaries– China in particular– that the U.S. is no longer concerned about protecting democracy and freedom worldwide, enabling a drastic expansion of its political hegemony. The consequences could be especially acute for India under these circumstances, as any signal of isolationism from the West may encourage China to escalate the long-tenuous situation along the Himalayan border.
Look– I get it. Ramaswamy may have a last name that sounds like many of ours. He may speak with skilled oration that we like to see Desi high schoolers emulate on debate teams. And he may be a young, new face to the American political stage.
But make no mistake– the last place where he belongs is in the Oval Office. Indian Americans turned out in massive numbers in 2020 to vote Donald Trump out of the Presidency because we understood the need to reject hate, chaos, and recklessness. Ramaswamy would be everything Trump was, but worse– taking the most extreme of Trump’s policies and establishing them as his campaign’s core ideals.
(Narahari is a high school senior from Albuquerque, NM. He is President of his school’s student government, and participates in Model UN. He has also worked on several Democratic political campaigns and Indian American advocacy groups.)