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Ramaswamy’s far-fetched lies reveal a deeper truth about the GOP

Republican voters aren’t looking for honest candidates.

Vivek Ramaswamy lies a lot.?

Last month, at the first Republican presidential debate, he called climate change a “丑辞补虫” and said “more people are dying of bad climate change policies than they are of actual climate change,” which is not remotely true.?

He also has claimed we don’t know “the truth about Jan. 6” and spread baseless conspiracy theories about Sept. 11 — and when caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar, he said that he was misquoted (which is also a lie). He has denied criticizing Trump’s actions on Jan. 6, even though he did so in a book published just last year. And he has supported masking during the COVID-19 pandemic, pardoning Hunter Biden and cutting U.S. aid for Israel. When asked about each claim, Ramaswamy denied making them —?all easily provable falsehoods.

Ramaswamy lies so much that even Donald Trump thinks “he’s starting to get out there a little bit.”

The irony of all this lying is that Ramaswamy is running his campaign based on a set of what he calls “truths.” These include rather uncontroversial statements like “there are three branches of the U.S. government, not four,” but also claims such as “God is real,” “human flourishing requires fossil fuels” and “the U.S. Constitution is the strongest guarantor of freedoms in history.”

These latter ones are opinions.?

Indeed, Ramaswamy lies so much that even Donald Trump thinks “he’s starting to get out there a little bit.”?

Like Trump, whose political playbook Ramaswamy seems to be mimicking, the first-time candidate also likes to float ludicrous ideas that will appeal to Republican voters.?

When asked a few days after the debate if former Vice President Mike Pence should have certified the 2020 election on Jan. 6, 2021, Ramaswamy said that he should have demonstrated courage by stopping the proceedings and insisted that Congress immediately pass an electoral reform law. But Pence had no power to do such a thing, major pieces of legislation are generally not passed on a whim, and there wasn’t even majority support among lawmakers for Ramaswamy’s voting measures.??

His proposal to end the Ukraine war by traveling to Moscow to convince Vladimir Putin to abandon his partnership with China and ally himself with the United States is even more far-fetched.

In a normal political environment, such brazen dishonesty and ludicrous policy ideas would disqualify Ramaswamy from office. Yet Ramaswamy is enjoying a bit of a boomlet. Despite his deception-filled debate performance, his poll numbers actually moved upward, and he is suddenly getting new media attention.?

The root of Donald Trump’s success in 2016 was not that he told GOP voters the truth. It’s that he told them even bigger and bolder lies.

It makes sense because, in the modern GOP, a candidate lying is hardly a reason for disqualification. Republican voters don’t mind that their presidential candidates tell them lies — it’s actually what they want.?

The root of Donald Trump’s success in 2016 was not that he told GOP voters the truth. It’s that he told them even bigger and bolder lies. For years, Republican politicians pledged to stop illegal immigration. What did Trump do? He said he’d build a wall, and Mexico would pay for it. It was obvious that this would never happen, and in four years he never finished the wall, nor did Mexico cough up the money. Yet that did not lessen his support. Years into Trump’s presidency, I attended political events in which his supporters earnestly told me that the wall had, in fact, been built.?

GOP leaders said they’d repeal the Affordable Care Act.?Trump promised not only to repeal it, but replace it with something better. Republicans talked about limiting Muslim immigration from Syria — Trump said he’d ban it altogether.

Other Republicans flirted with questioning Barack Obama’s birthplace. Trump not only fully embraced “birtherism,” he insisted he had sources to prove Obama wasn’t an American. (And when he finally admitted in 2016 that Obama was born in the U.S., he falsely blamed Hillary Clinton for starting the “birther” controversy.)?

Trump also said he would prosecute Clinton, hire the best people and "clean up the swamp" in Washington. None of that happened. During his impeachment over his efforts to coerce Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, he claimed that his phone call with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was “perfect,” even though anyone listening to it could tell that it wasn’t. After he lost the 2020 presidential election, he claimed that the election had been stolen from him — even though there was no evidence of widespread fraud.?

At last month’s GOP debate, Chris Christie and Pence told hard truths about Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss and his assault on the Constitution. Both got booed. That’s hardly a surprise, when 70% of Republicans think Joe Biden’s victory in 2020 was illegitimate.?

GOP voters aren't looking for honest candidates; they want ones who will tell them what they want to hear.

This week, Sen. Ted Cruz went on Newsmax to complain that the Biden administration wants to limit Americans to two beers a week (it’s actually a recommendation). Like the recurrent attack on Democrats for regulating gas stoves and ceiling fans, it gets cheered by Republicans.?

You’d think that Republican voters would catch on to the fact that they are perennially taken for ride after ride. But if anything, the opposite occurs — they seek out politicians willing to confirm their views. GOP voters aren't looking for honest candidates; they want ones who will tell them what they want to hear. No matter how outlandish the lie, ludicrous the claim, or far-fetched the policy idea, Republican voters have consistently shown that they will believe what their party leaders tell them — and will not punish them when their campaign promises don’t materialize. The only ones that get punished are the ones that attempt to puncture their world view.

Ramaswamy is just offering more of the same. He’s merely using what has been obvious for years: When it comes to Republican voters, you can in fact fool most of the people all the time.

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