The Brain Rot of the Binary Mind
The DNC, the RNC, and what it does to our politics
Vivek Ramaswamy is not going to be president of the United States. But the multimillionaire entrepreneur has, at the very minimum, guaranteed himself some sort of future in the GOP. As a second tier candidate who is a proud Donald Trump sycophant, he will maintain his good standing with the Republican base when he inevitably drops out of the race next year. Ramaswamy is a culture war obsessive and some of his foreign policy ideas range from unworkable to absurd. For most liberals, he is little more than a meme, a grinning, shouting Trumpist to be shunted off the stage.
On Israel, though, Ramaswamy has broken with Republican orthodoxy in a notable way. He doesn’t care about the dignity of the Palestinian people or forcing Benjamin Netanyahu to carve out land for a two-state solution. He’s not joining Squad Democrats in calling for ceasefire. But he is articulating a bit of realpolitik as he expresses opposition to President Joe Biden’s $106 billion funding request to support Israel against Hamas and Ukraine against Russia.
“The U.S. should be clear with Israel that further U.S. support is contingent on Israel identifying clear objectives for success in Gaza and a coherent plan for what comes after toppling Hamas even if Israel is successful in doing so. As of now, these critical questions remain unanswered,” Ramaswamy told Politico.
I only knew about Ramaswamy’s statement because of the Democratic National Committee. The DNC operates a “war room” in which its press office daily emails reporters about supposedly disqualifying or damning statements Republicans have made. Most of it is what you expect; a party of Trump is going to veer off the rails, and the DNC has every right to delight in the Republican speaker chaos, even as the Democratic Party itself risks greater defeat in 2024.
Like the RNC’s press office, the DNC embraces a very obvious if mind-numbing binary: whatever the other team does, we must be against it. This creates certain oddities, particularly when politicians of both parties manage, even in minor ways, to break with the party line. Ramaswamy’s statement on Israel doesn’t differ much from what two Democratic members of Congress, Christopher Murphy and Seth Moulton, have said about a potential invasion of Gaza. There is nothing “conservative” or even isolationist about asking Israel to formulate a coherent plan for managing a destitute, obliterated territory of two million people for decades on end, one that could easily incubate further terrorism. Many American politicians are wary of Israel repeating the cataclysms of Afghanistan and Iraq. Given that Israel could invade Gaza with American-funded weaponry, Americans themselves have a right to demand actual conditions on how their money gets spent.
Here is what DNC spokesperson Sarafina Chitika said about Ramaswamy’s call for “identifying clear objectives” when it comes to an Israeli invasion of Gaza.
“By calling to withhold aid to Israel, Vivek Ramaswamy continues to show that he is a foreign policy amateur and is completely out of his depth as the world looks to the United States for strong leadership,” Chitika said. “Ramaswamy’s shameful history of calling to halt aid to our key ally proves what Americans know to be true: MAGA Republicans are too dangerous and extreme to be trusted with power – both at home and abroad.”