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What “You Didn’t Build That” Teaches Us

Given that the nation is poised to return to the Obama era — and given that Obama has been making the rounds on television to promote the multiple-volume hagiography he’s written about his favorite subject, himself — I thought it might be informative to revisit his most revealing gaffe. That is his “You didn’t build that” speech.

Let me start by saying that Barack Obama may be one of the most narcissistic, brittle, defensive presidents who has ever held the office. The man is absolutely obsessed with himself, and when he’s not droning on about how much he loves himself in his sibilant, hissing syntax (seriously, listen to him sometime — he legitimately hisses when he pronounces words with “s” sounds in them), he’s betraying the horrifying mindset he brought to the Oval Office.

Leftists were fond of saying that Obama’s “you didn’t build that” speech was taken out of context by nefarious right-wingers who were desperate to twist his words into something he didn’t mean. That’s actually not true. I’ve listened to the entire speech that contained those remarks and, believe me, the “full context” of the speech doesn’t make them better. It makes them worse.

During a July, 2012 campaign speech when Obama was running against the empty suit that was Mitt Romney (who briefly became evil incarnate when he ran against a Democrat, but who has since leaned so far left people assume he’ll switch parties eventually), Obama was speaking out against the thing Democrats hate almost as much as they hate free speech: you keeping your money. Democrats love to hike up taxes, and Romney was, at the time, campaigning on keeping certain tax cuts in place from the Bush era. Obama decided that he, in his magnificence, would tell the poor, benighted American people just how much they owed the government. Why, if the government wasn’t wasting your tax dollars, there would be no roads or bridges, and thus you would never be able to succeed, because individuals don’t actually accomplish anything.

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help,” hissed Obama. “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.”

In other words, there is no such thing as individual accomplishment, in the mind of one of the most famous Democrats of the modern age. There is only collective accomplishment, with the actions of every human being taking place atop a human pyramid made up of all other human beings. Individual accomplishment is thus meaningless. Only collectives “do things,” in Obama’s mind, and the government is of course the greatest collective that ever was. You can boil all this down to mean, “Anything you have, you have because Uncle Sugar allows it.”

The reality is that of course people interact with each other. Of course people learn from what has happened before. Of course people take advantage of infrastructure that exists, and build on achievements of past individuals. Individuals work in cooperation with each other to achieve mutually beneficial goals. But this doesn’t mean individual accomplishment doesn’t exist. The fact that Obama and Democrats like him actually think this way is why the “you didn’t build that” remark was repeated so often. Democrats can’t fathom why we find this attitude horrifying.

I’m reminded of an old joke. A guy buys a pack of cigarettes and walks out of the store, getting ready to light one. A spectator sitting in front of the store notices and cites the price of the cigarettes. He asks the smoker how long the man has had the habit. When he hears the answer, he does some quick math and says, “You know, if you add up the cost of those cigarettes over all those years, you’d be able to own a Ferrari right now.”

The smoker looks him up and down and says, “Do you smoke?”

“Never tried it,” says the spectator.

“Then where’s your Ferrari?” says the smoker, and walks away.

No, people do not exist in the airless, frictionless world of high school physics problems, floating in space unconnected to all other human beings. Yes, everything we do takes place in a world in which other human beings, countless other human beings, are also doing things. But in that context there is a staggering variety of levels of human drive, effort, and accomplishment. Some individuals earn more than others, work harder than others, are smarter than others, and yes, even get luckier than others.

How you navigate the endless choices, decisions, and actions in your life is what determines your success or failure. You believe this if you are a Republican. If you think it sounds ridiculous, you’re probably a Democrat.

Democrats, because they believe these external forces are all that matter, then go on to pass laws that always have destructive unintended consequences. It’s as if they simply do not understand that what they are doing is destroying the very things they’re say they’re trying to help. The reason they don’t understand it is the reason Obama thinks “you didn’t build that.” It’s the reason Obama’s defenders think there’s nothing wrong with what he said.

Democrats simply don’t believe in individuals. It’s why they hate individual rights and why they love government control. They love subordinating the individual to the collective, and Obama could not have given us a more explicit declaration of that fact.

This is the future Democrats want. This is the world Democrats voted for. This is why we, the right-thinking people of this nation, must stand against them.

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