'We Built It' Is Getting Old. Also, What Are Romney's Specific Plans?
We've heard a lot of 'pull yourself up by your bootstraps' kinds of stories, but not much acknowledgement of the people who pulled themselves time and time again, only to be beaten down and have the boots, the straps, and any tool that could be used to pull stolen.
You know what else is odd? After night two of the Republican National Convention I still don't have a clue what Mitt Romney's specific plans for improving America actually are. However, I did hear plenty of bizarre lies coming from the stage. Thanks to the information age it's not hard to independently fact check the whoppers these folks are telling. Also, have they forgotten about the Ten Commandments? I was half expecting a lighting bolt to come through and strike Paul Ryan.
Heck, maybe the truth really doesn't matter to them anymore. As long as attendees feel like they have a safe space to throw peanuts at a black CNN camerawoman while saying, "This is how we feed animals," it's all good. Hmm...maybe they threw peanuts at her because she pointed out that her ancestors actually DID build something.
I also wonder if these folks have never known anyone who died because they didn't have health insurance and couldn't go to the doctor. I know at least three people who've lost their mothers due to a lack of medical treatment. This essay by education journalist Audrey Watters about what happened when she was in a Ph.D. program and had no health insurance has had me choked up all day. Read blog entries from my dear friend Erin Kotecki Vest who has been going through treatment for lupus. I'm not sure how someone can read their stories and be okay with every man, woman, and child not having healthcare.
As 8-year-old Mr. T noted when Paul Ryan started talking about repealing the Affordable Healthcare Act, "Wait, he doesn't want people to have healthcare? This dude sucks." His 11-year-old brother subsequently quipped, "Next he's gonna say 'May the odds be forever in your favor.'"
This may not be The Hunger Games (yet), but from the speeches I've heard, I'm not supposed to be my brother's keeper. I'm not supposed to put others and the good of our society as a whole before my own selfish needs. Individualism trumps everything. Only one of us can be the victor so as long as I got mine, who cares if you've got yours, right? You must not have worked hard enough or sacrificed enough.
Instead of encouraging Americans to put aside our differences to collectively build something together--something that brings people together--the speakers I've heard seem to believe living in a siloed society where shouting "I built that" from every tree top resonates.
How is that supposed to be inspiring to anyone?
What President Obama actually said which sparked all this we built it madness is this:
"If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else.Let me tell you something—there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business—you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet. The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.Whenever I meet someone who acts like they got where they are solely based on their own merit and awesomeness, my bullshit detectors go into overdrive. Keep it real, if someone gave you a loan to start your business, you got help. If someone taught you how to write a business plan, or hooked you up with an awesome tax preparer, you got help.
I teach my kids to ask for help in school. What kind of message are we sending them when this rampant individualism is so celebrated? Why is admitting we need help to build a better society such a problem? And when is Mitt Romney going to give some actual details about what he'd do as president?