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No One Left to Blame

By Oliver Wiseman


REVIEW: ‘Nation of Victims: Identity Politics, the Death of Merit, and the Path Back to Excellence’ by Vivek Ramaswamy

Vivek Ramaswamy was in sixth grade when he became a conservative, and the man to blame, he writes in Nation of Victims: Identity Politics, the Death of Merit and the Path Back to Excellence, was General Electric CEO Jack Welch.

Ramaswamy’s father was an engineer at GE and, thanks to Welch’s famous penchant for ruthless cost-cutting, Ramaswamy explains, “the threat of layoffs hung over our head.” Because of that insecurity, his father took night classes to get a law degree. His mother, a geriatric psychiatrist, worked extra hours. Tagging along to the nursing home after school, Ramaswamy would play piano for the patients. Sitting in the back of his father’s law classes, he took an interest in the ideas of Supreme Court justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, mostly because they seemed to be the two men that wound his liberal dad up the most.

“So I became a conservative because I was a bratty kid taking Scalia’s side against my dad,” writes Ramaswamy. “That’s the cute little story I give in interviews, at least. There’s a kernel of truth to it. But looking back on it, the financial insecurity my family faced and watching my parents do whatever they could to fight it played as big a role as those Scalia opinions. A bigshot CEO had casually made us live under the constant threat of layoffs, but those nights watching my dad take on law school … convinced me that our destiny was in our own hands, that our fate wasn’t intimately up to other people.”





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