The Articulate Ignorance of Vivek Ramaswamy


In David French’s op-ed titled “The Articulate Ignorance of Vivek Ramaswamy,” published on August 31, 2023, the author delves into the crisis of civic ignorance exacerbated by poor political leadership. French argues that civic ignorance is not a new phenomenon in America; however, it has reached a critical point due to the rise of leaders who not only perpetuate misinformation but also refuse to be held accountable for their actions. He cites historical data to show that Americans have long been uninformed about their own government and history, a situation that has worsened over the years.

French uses the example of Vivek Ramaswamy, a Republican presidential candidate, to illustrate how articulate yet fundamentally flawed leadership can mislead the public. Ramaswamy is described as a charismatic speaker who often makes statements that are either blatantly false or unworkable. Despite this, he has found success in the political arena, reflecting a broader issue where the public, already disconnected from political reality due to ignorance, is further misled by leaders who exploit this ignorance for their own gain.

The author emphasizes that the problem is not just with individual leaders like Ramaswamy or Donald Trump but with a political culture that has abandoned the pursuit of truth. This creates a dangerous cycle where an uninformed public is unable to hold their leaders accountable, leading to a degradation of democratic values. French warns that the combination of civic ignorance, corrupt leadership, and partisan animosity is a ticking time bomb that threatens not just American democracy but the stability of the world.

French concludes by stating that a democracy can only function effectively when it has an informed public and an honest political class. The absence of both puts the democratic experiment at risk, making the nation susceptible to conspiracy theories and divisive politics. The op-ed serves as a cautionary tale, urging both the public and the political class to recommit to the principles of truth and accountability.

French, David. “The Articulate Ignorance of Vivek Ramaswamy.” The New York Times, 31 Aug. 2023.

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