Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky used his convention speech to riff on the “You didn’t build that” meme, attacking President Obama for not believing in the American ideal that individual work ethic leads to success. The irony, as Chris Hayes pointed out, is that Rand Paul is the son of of a long-time U.S. Congressman.
Said Hayes, the author of Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy:
I think that wins the tendentiousness award on the ‘you didn’t build that’ riff. I mean here’s a guy who says that the reason my ancestors came to America is it’s a place where you can be judged on merit and not on who you are. This is the son of a United States Congressman, who has no plausible case that he would be a United States Senator but for the fact that he’s inherited all of this privilege and this last name, talking about what a great meritocratic experiment America is.
Paul had described how he felt when he heard Obama make the “you didn’t build that” comments. “I was first insulted, then I was angered, then I was saddened that anyone in our country, much less the president of the United States, believes that roads create business success and not the other way around.”
“Anyone who so fundamentally misunderstands American greatness is uniquely unqualified to lead this great nation,” Paul said.
He went on to describe how his ancestors came to America and worked hard to become successful. “American inventiveness and desire to build developed because we were guaranteed the right to own our success. For most of our history, no one dared tell Americans: ‘You didn’t build that.’”
“In America, as opposed to the old country,” Paul continued, “success was based on merit. Probably America’s greatest asset was that for the first time success was not based on who you were, but on what you did.”
Paul, of course, is the son of Texas Rep. Ron Paul. Many analysts have charged that Rand only got his speaking slot as a way of placating his father’s supporters.