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Producers’ Pick | Vivek Ramaswamy: How to defeat identity politics and “victimhood”

Brian Kilmeade Show / Brian Kilmeade
The Truth Network Radio
September 17, 2022 12:00 am

Producers’ Pick | Vivek Ramaswamy: How to defeat identity politics and “victimhood”

Brian Kilmeade Show / Brian Kilmeade

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September 17, 2022 12:00 am

Ramaswamy explains in his new book that we’re a nation of victims now. Black and white victims, liberal and conservative, men and women.

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Book your stay at I'm not talking about, I'm just talking, where's the work ethic? What about, all right, that guy or that woman smarter than you, you're going to outwork them?

And if you don't get the job, you're going to blame somebody? What prompted you to focus on this and research like you did? Well, it was in some ways, Brian, the sequel to Woke, Inc., right? So this was a book I wrote last year about corporate America cynically exploiting progressive values to be able to aggregate more power and even more profit for themselves. But you know what I realized by the end of the book is it takes two to tango.

At the end of the day, that only works if there's a general population of consumers, of millennial and Gen Z consumers included, who are falling for the trick. And so this book looks upstream to the culture to say that, what is it about the vacuum of identity in the heart of a generation? What is it about that vacuum that allows woke capitalism to thrive? That was the topic of the last book. So that's what caused me to take a deeper dive here.

So it's sort of a sequel to Woke, Inc. It's about our culture, though. This one's not about corporate America. This asks the question of what's the vacuum, the black hole of identity at the heart of the American soul right now? And my theory is that when you have a vacuum that runs that deep, that's what allows poison to fill the void. And one of the things I had done over the last couple of years is critique that poison one at a time.

Identity politics, woke culture, climate religion, whatever the toxic poison may be, we can stamp it out one at a time, but we're not solving the problem unless we fill that vacuum of American identity that hopefully dilutes the poison to irrelevance. And so I was looking in the mirror and saying, look, I'm not doing enough of that myself. That's what this book was about. So now we have this thing called quiet quitting. We have people who just want to do such a bad job, they get fired and collect unemployment.

Others through the pandemic, obviously it's not their fault, it's China's fault. They got lazy. They said, wait, this job is not rewarding. I'm not fulfilled. I don't want to go back to work.

You saw the story in the New York Times. Over 1,500 employees refused to go back. They said my union is going to protect me. I don't want to go back to work five days a week or at all. I'm just going to work from home.

It's incredible. And so one of the things I say in the book is victimhood fits laziness like a glove. And so one of the things that we see right now is the anti-work culture. It's even called the anti-work movement, the great resignation. It was accelerated during the pandemic where you have a generational reluctance to work, to achieve.

But it's not enough to admit that laziness or sloth or life preferences would be good enough. They wrap it with part of the grand struggle against the oppression of capitalism. Doreen Ford, one of the great leaders of the so-called anti-work movement on Reddit, says this all the time.

It's about fighting against the colonialism of capitalism, the oppression of capitalism. And that's what gives it staying power. Because then it's not just a matter of being lazy or making life choices, but you wrap it around with a moral veneer of legitimacy.

That's what makes this permanent. And so it's not just about the laziness and the lack of work. It's the moral indignation that comes with it, and that's what I'm calling out in the book. You know, in your book, it has great perspective on our history. You go back to people being blamed, like General Longstreet being blamed when General Lee didn't listen to him. He dies a couple of years after, five years after the war, doesn't really, never really blame Longstreet for it. It was his decision to go right up the middle at Gettysburg, and they got annihilated, right?

That's right. John Will Jackson dies and he becomes a legend. Lee dies and doesn't do enough defense. And Longstreet pays the price in history. He becomes the victim of this rewriting of history. But it's an inaccurate rewriting of history. It is an inaccurate rewriting of history. That's one of the things I do in this book. This book isn't for everybody. It's for somebody who actually cares about looking at American history, even Roman history, as a way to gain insights into the present.

That's the audience who I hope actually gets something out of this book. And one of the things I love about looking at history is it takes us out of the present for a second. Now, we're in such siloed chambers with respect to people who cannot engage in political discourse.

We see even people pulling out of political debates today. We can't engage in political discourse when we're tethered to the present. But when we go to history, somehow that allows people to take off their constraints a little bit. So I do trace a lot of the post-Civil War Reconstruction-era history where victimhood culture was actually born. I think it began with a lot of the jurisprudence that began in the back of the Reconstruction era that taught people to think of themselves as disempowered classes and victims.

The U.S. constitutional law in some ways actually even demanded it. But I even go all the way back to Roman history. You talked about how victimhood created this historical lens of how we see Longstreet, General Longstreet, versus, say, Stonewall Jackson. You know, actually one of my favorite stories from the book was even the way we look at Roman emperors, right? So the Septimius Severus is the black emperor. Here's the one who I was taught in high school was the so-called black emperor. One of the things I learned in doing the research for this book is that he didn't see himself as the black emperor. He was only named the black emperor in the last 40 years by Americans who wanted to celebrate a black conqueror because that's what the American moment demanded. Back in the Roman era, they didn't see each other as having anything other than dark eyes, dark hair, dark skin.

It didn't matter. They were citizens of a nation. And so sometimes if you go back to history and see what actually happened, it gives you a different filter through which you can actually see the present.

A couple of things. I remember just going, not necessarily in your book, but I remember reading in the 1880s people feeling, I'm worried about my generation. They were so tough during the Civil War. Everyone fought, everyone picked up a gun, and we've gotten soft as a country. After 1776, we're fighting the War of 1812, and we're sitting there trying to roll out our old generals, and there's one, Francis Scott Key is saying, what happened to that attitude? What happened to our guile?

We're not tough anymore. And our greatest generation became the greatest because they had to be. The world went to war. So a lot of it is the circumstances in which you're born, correct?

Necessity may demand it, and even for the upcoming generation, too. But I say that that's actually an inspiring point that you just made, Brian, which is that there's a point I make in the book as it relates to Rome, by the way. We think about the rise of Rome and the fall of Rome. One of the great discoveries, again, and through writing this book, going through my old historical knowledge, but brushing it up again, is that there was no rise and fall of Rome. There were many rises and many falls.

And the same goes for the history of the American experiment, too. There have been many rises and many falls. And once we see that, that gives us hope in the current moment, too, to say that we might not be done with this whole American experiment after all.

There were many rises and many falls. We might be at a nadir. But actually, it's going to be about the agency that we as citizens exercise to say that we're going to have the next revival again, just like we did back then in the early 1800s. We're having one of those moments now. We've gone through it before.

We can get through it again. Because if you're black or if you're Asian or if you're poor or if you're rich, there's always an excuse or crutch you can grab if you choose. That's right. And one of the points in your book that I'm going to challenge you, because you said no one will ever bring up because you woke ink, is about Asians and about Indians whose grades predominantly are through the roof. And even though the SATs are extremely high and the GPAs are extremely high, it's hard for them to get into these Ivy League schools because there's so many others and they're looking to diversify, and it's not flat-out merit-based, correct? That's right. It's affirmative action hurting the extremely bright minorities.

Exactly right. Harvard, one of my alma maters, used to describe this years ago as the so-called Jewish problem. That was Harvard's words, not mine.

It's the same thing. They effectively have the Asian problem now, that if they just went along the axes of merit, and merit can be defined in many ways. It could be musical exceptionalism.

It could be athletic exceptionalism. But it could be academic. The population would, it turns out, be disproportionately Asian. There's a 400-plus point gap in terms of what it takes to get into a top university on the SATs between being an Asian applicant and a black applicant.

Keep in mind, there's only a 1600 scale. I think there's a lawsuit working its way up to challenge affirmative action, correct? There is. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

There is. And so I think that legally, it's interesting. It's one of the few cases, if you go back to actually Sandra Day O'Connor's opinion about 20, 25 years ago in the early affirmative action cases, it was one of the few cases where they put an expiry on a constitutional principle, where they said about 20 to 25 years from now, we expect that these policies will no longer be necessary and may not even be constitutional under the law because circumstances will have changed.

Now we're hitting about that 20 to 25-year mark. So it'll be interesting to see what the Supreme Court does. I delve into some of those arguments in this book. But it goes beyond the legal dimension of this. I hope the Supreme Court comes out on the right side of this by rejecting affirmative action policies.

But the deeper question, Brian, is what is it about our culture that makes us demand these policies in the first place? To see each other as victims on the basis of the color of their skin, the more we tell that narrative, the more we create the new oppression that comes from the narrative of victimhood itself. And that's actually, I think, the greatest shackle on black identity today. The thing that creates most black victims is the narrative of black victimhood identity. People told me, you can't talk about this stuff because you're not black. I don't believe in that.

I think that we should be able to debate these ideas in the open without regard to what skin color we have because that's part of what makes us American. And we've forgotten that. Vivek Ramaswamy here. His book is now out as of this as of yesterday. It's called Nation of Victims, Identity Politics, and the Death of Merit and the Path Back to Excellence. So here's what they say. If you get up every day and you're told by your parents and your teachers that America is racist and you're a minority, you're black, and you go, okay, I have an attitude. I'm ticked off.

Why is it that the world's against me? So if I'm 6A-10-12, I'm going to have a little bit of a chip on my shoulder. Exactly.

And then it becomes a currency. And if I was born in the 60s, too, it just doesn't work to anyone's advantage to wake up and say, the world's against you. Overcome it.

Find a way. And there was more of an attitude of that during segregation in the South than there is right now where we have more of a level playing field than ever before. And I totally agree with you. I even see it in the Indian American community, right? So where immigrants came to this country and first-generation families. I was born in America, but first-generation. We have one upbringing, scrappy, underdog mentality, merit-focused, hard work, get ahead, put your head down, and create your own destiny. What I'm beginning to see in the second and third generation, even among Asian Americans, is now the reinvention of thinking of yourself as a person of color. Oh, no, we're not one of the privileged people.

We're one of the people of color. Inventing a victimhood narrative that going through hardship, that actually it's their parents and their grandparents are the ones who went through the hardship. These are the guys who had it easy, the guys who had it easy are the ones who are reinventing this narrative of thinking of themselves and recasting themselves as victims, because that's the incentive structure. That's how you get ahead in America today.

They're just following their incentives. And like so many times, sports really tells the story. You actually use that.

You can benefit from feeling like the underdog. Exactly. And then Michael Jordan gives a speech in the Hall of Fame, and he talks about the 10th grader that got cuts from the varsity team. He made the JV team.

Most 10th graders play JV, right? Actually, exactly. But he used it as momentum. He was sixth-round draft pick.

Tom Brady, the rest of his life he was the greatest quarterback ever. He's a sixth-round draft pick. All those teams have passed up on me, the Patriots who passed up five times. It benefits you to feel as though you have something to prove every day. Use it to your advantage. Where's that mentality?

More with Vivek as we come back, because we do have some economic numbers. I got to really tap into your mind, economic mind where we're going as a country. He was from the Brian Kilmeade Show. Don't move. Learning something new every day on the Brian Kilmeade Show. The more you listen, the more you'll know.

It's Brian Kilmeade. The longer that inflation remains well above target, the greater the concern that the public will start to just naturally incorporate higher inflation into its economic decision-making. And our job is to make sure that doesn't happen. And we're committed to doing that job. And I guess that means by raising rates, because right now inflation came in at 8.3%.

The markets responded with a drop of 880 points. It was about 500 when I started the show with me right now as Vivek Ramaswamy. His book is excellent. It's now out. It is called Nation of Victims, Identity Politics and Death of Merit and The Path Back to Excellence. You also have great knowledge of our economy. Hearing Jerome Powell, where do you think we're heading? Where's the economy heading? He's going to raise rates, and what's the reaction?

I actually talk about this a little bit in the book as well. So there's a big difference between raising rates now and raising rates, let's say, under Paul Volcker under Ronald Reagan. Because back then, any time you raise rates, what are you doing? You're shrinking the economy. And you're purposefully doing it to fight against inflation. So I think there's no path out of an inflationary crisis like the one that we're in that does not run through raising rates. We as a country have gotten addicted to easy money, skiing on artificial snow, as I say, that's what the last 15 years have been.

Okay, you can't ski on artificial snow forever. However, the key is to raise rates in a period where you also have economic policies for the actual economy that unlock economic potential to counteract the effects of raising the rates themselves. So under Reagan, what did you have? You have a deregulatory agenda. You have an agenda that spurs private innovation.

You have an agenda that gets government out of the way of private businesses, tax reform, tax cuts that allow the economy to thrive against the backdrop of aggressively raising rates. As opposed to what's happening now, which is with spending. Which is double whammy.

Double whammy. So, well, the spending was put in a separate category for now because that then contributes to the inflation, which then creates the need for raising rates even more. But against a regulatory environment and against an unfavorable potential future tax policy environment, that at once contributes to certainly not growing the economy, possibly shrinking the economy in real-world terms, at the same time that you're also raising rates. And so that's the potential double whammy when you think about the risks for recession, the risks for economic contraction. That's what you worry about, which is really different than the last time we had this kind of inflation when you had to raise rates to stave it off as at least it was against the backdrop of Ronald Reagan's policies that were at least economically stimulating rather than economically depressive. Listen to the mindset right now. Because your mindset, look at the economy, rates are going up, I can't do this, I can't do that, I can't do that. Or where's my opportunity?

How do I overcome this? How do I get stronger mentally? That's right, absolutely. And even if you think about this from the standpoint of, you know, a lot of young founders, let's say in Silicon Valley or whatever, grew up over a ten-year period where anything that rhymes with tech had money reigning into it. Tech, biotech, health tech, clean tech, fin tech, anything that rhymes with tech. Well, actually building great businesses for most of American history was actually really hard to do because access to capital was more scarce. Now, that means that this could actually be a good thing for gritty entrepreneurs to say that, you know what, in order to get funded, I'm going to have to actually have a real business model that works and to prove it, not just to write something down on a piece of paper. That could actually be good for our economy and our culture over the long run.

And it's fundamentally a mindset too. How do I overcome this rather than I cannot believe how bad the economy is? I can't believe I wanted to buy a house. No, I can't. Let's wait. Unfortunately, Vivek, we ran out of time. But go out and pick up his book, Nation of Victims. We'll have more on this on One Nation Saturday night at 8 o'clock.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-15 07:56:45 / 2023-02-15 08:05:03 / 8

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