How Kevin McCarthy Promotes the Myth of Meritocracy

Dog whistles are for rent-seekers, too.

5 min readApr 18, 2021


Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) managed to get a headline on Politico the other day. He was speaking up about American values in response to the MAGA caucus in Congress. The headline? McCarthy responds to MAGA caucus: GOP isn’t party of ‘nativist dog whistles’. The quote that caught my eye?

His statement above from Twitter was quoted by Politico in their article. I’m familiar with the sentiments he expresses in that tweet, and I see them as being fairly standard for any politician. My concern here is that McCarthy is promoting the myth of meritocracy in his first statement. He says that America is built on ideas of equality and success through hard work. He qualified his statement by excluding identity, race, or religion as factors in success or failure.

I am agnostic as to identity, race, or religion when I interact with other people. I am more concerned with how I’m treated by people than I am by any other factor. I can also say that I’m agnostic about politics, too. For the people I love in my family and my friends, I will never “unfriend” them just because we disagree about politics. I have no wish to live in an echo chamber of people who only agree with me. Even when it comes to political views, I am more concerned with character than opinions.

After I read that statement today, I kept thinking about this notion that success is built upon hard work. I think in a general sense that’s true. But I’m still doing the math. I am aware of people in the very state that I live in who are working two and three jobs, more than full time, trying to make a living. I am aware that the minimum wage has not kept pace with productivity. I am even more aware of the fact that if the minimum wage had kept pace with Wall Street bonuses, it’d be $44 an hour. It’s odd how Wall Street never takes a haircut. That doesn't sound like hard work to me, that sounds like collusion.

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