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Republican presidential candidate businessman Vivek Ramaswamy speaks during a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by NewsNation on Dec. 6, 2023, at the Moody Music Hall at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP) Republican presidential candidate businessman Vivek Ramaswamy speaks during a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by NewsNation on Dec. 6, 2023, at the Moody Music Hall at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP)

Republican presidential candidate businessman Vivek Ramaswamy speaks during a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by NewsNation on Dec. 6, 2023, at the Moody Music Hall at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP)

Maria Ramirez Uribe
By Maria Ramirez Uribe December 13, 2023

Ramaswamy’s Pants on Fire claim that the Democratic platform includes the ‘great replacement theory’

If Your Time is short

  • The "great replacement theory" claims that there is a conspiracy to replace white people of European descent with nonwhite people. 

  • There is no evidence that the "great replacement theory" is part of the Democratic Party’s platform, according to immigration and political science experts and a review of the party’s platforms from 1840 to 2020.

  • Pro-immigrant policies are not proof of a scheme to replace white Americans with nonwhite Americans.

At a Republican presidential primary debate in Alabama, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy claimed he was the only candidate onstage who would "speak truth to power" and "speak the truth to you." 

"Why am I the only person, on this stage at least, who can say … that the great replacement theory is not some grand right-wing conspiracy theory. But a basic statement of the Democratic Party's platform," Ramaswamy said Dec 6. 

The "great replacement theory" is a debunked conspiracy theory claiming that white people of European descent are deliberately being replaced with nonwhite people. Perpetrators of several violent attacks around the world, including the shooter who killed 10 people at a Buffalo, New York, grocery store in 2022, have referred to the theory.

Immigration and political science experts said Ramaswamy’s claim is wrong and dangerous. And PolitiFact’s review of the Democratic Party’s campaign platforms from 1840 to 2020 show no reference to the "great replacement theory." 

The Democratic Party’s pro-immigrant platform is not evidence of the ‘great replacement theory'

There are different versions of the "great replacement theory." The most "explicitly racist" version claims that Jewish people are manipulating "high-fertility" immigrants to come to the U.S. and replace white people through demographic warfare, said Casey Kelly, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln expert in political extremism. 

Ramaswamy is citing a more "sanitized version" repeated by right-wing politicians and pundits, claiming that Democrats’ pro-immigration policies are replacing white people in the U.S. and strengthening the party’s voter base, Kelly said.  

But there is no part of the Democratic Party platform that endorses or echoes the ideas of a replacement theory, said Eric Oliver, a political scientist at the University of Chicago. "Ramaswamy is trying to interpret the party’s historically liberal immigration policies as wanting to get rid of its predominantly white majority," Oliver said.

Alan Kraut, a historian and expert in immigration and ethnic history at American University, said of Ramswamy’s claim, "That's absolutely rubbish. It's an attempt to create a racist theory out of something that's simply not there. And I don't think it should be taken seriously by anyone." 

Ramaswamy incorrectly ties pathway to citizenship to conspiracy theory

Ramaswamy’s team said a 2013 Politico article supported his claim. The article was about a pending immigration proposal in Congress that would have provided a pathway to citizenship to millions of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. Beneficiaries could eventually vote for Democrats, the article said, but it was uncertain "what their turnout percentages would be once they gain voting rights." The bill passed in the Senate with bipartisan support, but it did not get a House vote.

Experts say that providing a pathway to citizenship for immigrants doesn’t prove Ramaswamy’s claim that the Democratic Party’s platform includes the "great replacement theory."

Also, it was Republican President Ronald Reagan who signed into law the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, the most recent law that paved the way for immigrants who were in the country illegally to become lawful permanent residents if they met certain requirements.

Ramaswamy’s campaign also shared a link to a Ramaswamy Dec. 7 X post sharing a 2021 clip of CNN political commentator Van Jones during a Drew University forum. During the forum on "the four crises facing the Western world," a university article said, Jones spoke about a "diversity challenge" as nonwhite communities grow and demand equality. 

"No ethnic majority group in 10,000 years of human history that I could find ever went from being a majority to being a minority and liked it. And that’s basically the request from the racial justice left," Jones said in the clip. "Is that we want the white majority to go from being a majority to being a minority and like it. That’s a tough request, and the reality is that change is hard."

Jones served in the Obama administration as an environmental adviser, but he is not a Democratic Party leader.

Demographics are changing worldwide as more people age and migrate. The U.S. population also is racially diversifying. But equating demographic shifts to a sinister "replacement" plan is part of a "paranoid style of conspiratorial thinking," said Kelly.

For centuries, people have migrated to the U.S. because of violence, political instability and poverty in their home countries. Others have come seeking better academic or employment opportunities.

Our ruling

Ramaswamy said "the great replacement theory is not some grand right-wing conspiracy theory. But a basic statement of the Democratic Party's platform."

Although the Democratic party generally is pro-immigrant, there is no evidence that it is the party’s platform to systemically replace white Americans with nonwhite immigrants. 

We rate this claim Pants on Fire!

RELATED: Ramaswamy’s Pants on Fire debate claim that Jan. 6 was an ‘inside job’

Our Sources

NewsNation, Watch full: NewsNation hosts fourth GOP primary debate | NewsNation GOP Debate, Dec. 6, 2023

PolitiFact, What is the ‘great replacement theory’ linked to the Buffalo shooter?, May 16, 2022

The American Presidency Project, Democratic Party Platforms, accessed Dec. 13, 2023

PolitiFact, Elise Stefanik’s Facebook ads examined after Buffalo shooting, May 17, 2022

PolitiFact, Tucker Carlson feigned ignorance over ‘great replacement theory,’ despite talking about it often, May 19, 2022

Politico, Immigration reform could be bonanza for Dems, April 22, 2023

GovTrack, S. 744 (113th): Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, June 27, 2013

PolitiFact, Sen. Marco Rubio says immigration bill is not amnesty, April 17, 2013

Vivek Ramaswamy, post, Dec. 7, 2023

CNN, Van Jones, accessed Dec. 13, 2023

Drew University, Van Jones Outlines Four Crises Facing the Western World, February 2021

United Nations, Shifting Demographics, accessed Dec. 13, 2023

Brookings, The nation is diversifying even faster than predicted, according to new census data, July 1, 2020

PolitiFact, Central America and the root causes of migration to the US, June 7, 2021

Phone interview,  Alan Kraut, history professor at American University, Dec. 11, 2023

Phone interview, professor and director of Graduate Studies at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Dec. 11, 2023

Email exchange, Eric Oliver, professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, Dec. 11, 2023

Email exchange, Vivek Ramaswamgy campaign spokesperson, Dec. 8, 2023

 

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Ramaswamy’s Pants on Fire claim that the Democratic platform includes the ‘great replacement theory’

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