- - Thursday, March 23, 2023

The world is watching for the repercussions of the Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) fallout and how it will affect the worldwide market. The biggest question should be, “How did this happen?”

As we peel back the onion to determine the “root cause,” one underlying issue emerges; the rise of woke ideology instead of meritocracy.

Over the last decade, the United States has witnessed a concerning trend in which meritocracy in business, the military, and education is increasingly sidelined in favor of what we know as “woke” ideology. This trend has grave consequences for our country’s future. It undermines the fundamental principles of fairness, equality, and opportunity that have made America the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Meritocracy is essential for fostering innovation, creativity, and economic growth, as it rewards individuals with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed. It is the foundation of the American Dream.

However, in recent years, the importance of meritocracy has been undermined by a growing focus on political ideology and equity. This has led to a culture in which individuals are judged by the color of their skin rather than the content of their character– in direct opposition to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision for the future. This ideology goes against the American Dream that I immigrated to as a young boy and fought to protect as a man.

Instead of hiring a Chief Risk Officer, SVB left the position open for nearly a year and focused on hiring a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Officer. SVB’s focus was on visibility days and awareness weeks instead of fulfilling the requirements of their investors, who saw the writing on the wall and pulled out their money. It’s not just SVB. Companies prioritize diversity and inclusion initiatives throughout the financial industry over merit-based hiring practices. While the diversity of thought and inclusion of all is undoubtedly important, they should not come at the expense of meritocracy. Consumers want the best product for the best value. When companies prioritize DEI, the consumer loses.

Similarly, in the military, we have seen the rise of identity politics, in which individuals are judged not on their competence but on their identity group. This undermines the military’s effectiveness and the morale of our troops. As a combat veteran, I can unequivocally say the enemy didn’t care if I was white, black, brown, or yellow. They targeted us all just the same. The enemy only cared that we wore the stars and stripes on our shoulders, representing freedom and democracy.

Schools should be the next in line to burn the DEI playbook. In the education system, we have seen the rise of “equity,” which aims to ensure equal outcomes rather than merit and achievement. This undermines the value of education and prevents students from learning the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the modern world. At my alma mater, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, the change in entrance requirements from meritocracy to a lottery system caused a decrease of 20% in Asian students. This new selection process based on equity caused some students not to have the necessary prerequisite skill sets to matriculate the tough curriculum successfully.

The consequences of prioritizing political ideology over meritocracy are dire. It leads to the polarization of society and the marginalization of talented individuals who do not conform to the prevailing political ideology.

SVB’s failure to focus on its core mission will cause thousands of businesses not to make payroll and destroy the plans of many entrepreneurs. The military’s inability to focus on training and preparedness will put our national security at risk. The failure of schools to teach our children the skills needed to succeed in the workforce will cause economic repercussions for generations.

We must get back to the basics. We must return to meritocracy to provide economic opportunity, educate our future workforce, and defend our country. By embracing meritocracy, we can create a society where hard work and talent are rewarded, our education focuses on ensuring the best and brightest rise to the top, and our military focuses on defeating our enemies rather than trying to solve societal issues. It is time to reject the cancer of woke ideology and embrace the American spirit of innovation, hard work, and excellence.

  • Hung Cao, Honorary Chairman of Unleash America PAC and Senior Advisor at POLARIS National Security. Cao is a former congressional candidate from Loudoun County and a retired Navy Captian who served in special operations for 25 years. 

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