Glen Greenwald Promotes a Dangerous But Likable Version of Trump

As someone who would never subscribe to Glen Greenwald’s grift, I still am on his mailing list and get just enough of his free content to appreciate what happens when a journalistic celebrity falls into a cavern full of funhouse mirrors. Greenwald’s post Republican presidential debate interview with Vivek Ramaswamy provokes an incredulous double take – reading Greenwald these days is akin to rubbernecking at the lurid mess of a fatal crash, for he eagerly sought to prove that Ramaswamy is the chosen savior of the fairy tale universe that Greenwald has invented.

In so far as the chaos of contemporary American politics can be meaningfully deconstructed – Ramaswamy, and his sordid connection to Greenwald, represents a new and dangerous trend. Of course, it is also possible that Ramaswamy is a meaningless footnote in the train-wreck of American politics who will be gone from the news cycle in a month, but I fear that this is not the case.

There are, for our purposes here, two Vivek Ramaswamys – the real one and the mirage that Ramaswamy, with Greenwald’s assistance, aspires to sell to a distracted public. The real Ramaswamy seeks to dismantle the entire edifice of protections for vulnerable citizens and replace it with a privatized system of unregulated predation. (https://www.alternet.org/vivek/?utm_source=123456&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=15789)

Ramaswamy’s dystopia would put the war on drugs on steroids, goose the military budget to levels of international threat that would eclipse the wildest wet dreams that Henry Kissinger ever had. A Ramaswamy administration would cast out unfriendly voters and create an absolute tidal wave of oil profits as drillers and frackers would be lauded, subsidized and encouraged as if greenhouse gasses were our collective dopamine.

The Ramaswamy mirage trades on a single quality – Vivek is, on the surface, affable and able to wrap his monstrous vision of America with gaudy, relatable spin. He is not the repulsive, unapproachable, inarticulate fascist prototype that is Trump. He can tell anyone – in the vaguest, most non-specific terms – exactly what they want to hear. As such, Ramaswamy makes every day into Glen Greenwald’s birthday, for Glen can pretend that the most pro corporate, anti-human rights candidate in American history is the second coming of Karl Marx. We should not forget that Greenwald once heard voices proclaiming that Tucker Carlson was a socialist.

Greenwald’s spectacularly naive version of contemporary politics boils down to a peculiar tidbit of silliness – the Democratic Party is still in the hands of the old guard corporate stooges, while the Republican Party has been strong armed by “anti-establishment” rebels like Trump, Ramaswamy and Tucker Carlson. In Greenwald’s mind there is little continuity between Nixon, Reagan, the Bush family and the new and prevailing likes of Ramaswamy and Josh Hawley – the new breed of Republican who oppose the oligarchs and war profiteers.

Unfortunately, Greenwald neglected to inform Lockheed Martin that the Democrats are the party of war and the Republicans are now the party of peace. The Lockheed Martin super PACS contributed almost 70% of their recent senatorial political funding to Republican campaigns. One might conclude that Lockheed Martin executives understand that Greenwald’s new breed of Republicans are a new breed in rhetoric only, but absolutely faithful to old guard policies of union busting, tax subsidies to billionaires, bloated military funding, environmental deregulation and the commitment to conflate immigration policies with the war on drugs. This new breed of anti-establishment Republican is especially zealous about expanding the prison industrial system, and prostrating themselves to the aspirations of the fossil fuel industry to brainwash the public.

Vivek Ramaswamy has proudly proclaimed that climate change is a hoax and that energy regulations are a “wet blanket on the American economy.”

But Greenwald had no interest in unpacking Ramaswamy’s whoring for Chevron. He rather paved a narrative road for the candidate to spew out torrents of meaningless fluff that appealed to both hardline Trumpers and the more amorphous collection of confused individuals that can be moved by the vagaries of populist sloganeering.

The Ramaswamy that Greenwald channeled said things like:

“Populism is a response to an emotional current but I think there’s a real philosophy underlying it, absolutely coherent on its own terms, a new political ideology…”

or:

“I think we live in a 1776 moment. But it’s not just that we’re going to go out with pitchforks because we’re mad. It’s because we’re going out to revive the modern American revolution, on the principles written out in the Declaration of Independence and enshrined in the best operating manual for those principles, the U.S. Constitution.”

or this gem of fluff spinning:

“We’re all Americans. And the America First movement puts all Americans first. And so, yeah, Does that help to be a member of a different generation? Absolutely, it does. But it’s not just a generational argument. It’s a vision of what actually matters in this country, what the actual divide is. It’s not between Republicans and Democrats. It’s the everyday citizen. The great uprising saying, “Hell, no” to the great reset and the managerial class. That’s what this is about.”

A few of the things that Greenwald somehow forgot to explore with his guest were, health care, housing, unionism, climate, toxic pollution and voting rights – the sort of issues that might reveal that Ramaswamy may say “hell no” to the managerial class as a performative exercise, while espousing every policy that the managerial class could ever hope for. After all, he is the managerial class.

I suspect that Greenwald’s followers, at this point, are a collection of the more sophisticated adherents of the hard right. Whether or not Greenwald’s shilling for petty figures on the populist right represents a windfall for fascism remains to be seen.

Phil Wilson is a writer and essayist who has written for Current Affairs, Common Dreams, The Hampshire Gazette, Common Ground Review and other publications.