Tuesday, July 31, 2012

America, We’re in This Together

"When we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together..."

We all stand on the shoulders of giants... George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Edison, and Tim Berners Lee.

No one who has ever built anything of very much consequence in this nation, or any nation, has done it alone.

Thomas Edison needed capital, and he needed government investment and willing consumers.

Tim Berners Lee, one of the people who invented the Internet as we know it today, could not have done it without dozens of fellow inventors, big government investments spurred on by Al Gore (yes, it's true), and many small and large businesses taking a gamble to work together.

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson understood the point, of course.

The Preamble to the Constitution does not say "Me, Myself and I," but:

"We the people, of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

We the People, working together can build a great nation.

We did that. We the People built the Great White Fleet and paved a million miles of road connecting your house to mine.

We the People built great universities in every state, and made parks for the common man. We cleaned up our rivers, we protected our forests, we brought back America's wildlife.

We the People. Not Me, Myself and I.

Before he began flipping and flopping and pandering himself to embarrassment, Mitt Romney recognized that we all get to great heights with the too-often unsung assistance of others. Listen to what he once told the world's winter Olympians:

"You Olympians, however, know you didn't get here solely on your own power.

"For most of you, loving parents, sisters or brothers, encouraged your hopes, coaches guided, communities built venues in order to organize competitions.

"All Olympians stand on the shoulders of those who lifted them. We’ve already cheered the Olympians, let’s also cheer the parents, coaches, and communities. All right!"

-- Mitt Romney, to Winter Olympics participants

Barack Obama also knows that behind every American success are parents, teachers, coaches, construction workers, military men and women, and hard working taxpayers.

This nation is great because we are a UNITED States.

This nation is great because we are (or at least once were), WE THE PEOPLE.

As President Obama told a crowd at a recent campaign stop in Norfolk, Virginia:

"We’ve already made a trillion dollars’ worth of cuts. We can make some more cuts in programs that don’t work, and make government work more efficiently… We can make another trillion or trillion-two, and what we then do is ask for the wealthy to pay a little bit more…

"There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me, because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -look, 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.

"So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together. That’s how we funded the GI Bill. That’s how we created the middle class. That’s how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam. That’s how we invented the Internet. That’s how we sent a man to the moon.

"We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that’s the reason I’m running for president – because I still believe in that idea. You’re not on your own, we’re in this together.”


Gina said...

Amen, Patrick. I am completely and utterly disgusted with these people who truly do think they are so special that they did it on their own. Love the ones who went to public universities (or private ones with government grants) and still insist they did it all themselves.

I don't have children, but I am proud to pay for the education of other peoples' children through my taxes. Proud to keep retirees from living in abject poverty (which more than half did before Social Security). Proud to help people with disabilities. Proud to support parks, roads, airports and so much more.

Maybe if these folks started thinking of taxes as being the equivalent of their common fees in their gated communities, or the membership dues to their country clubs, they'd start to catch on a little.

Until then, I wish they'd STFU.

Curt said...

What amazes me (beyond the greedy, selfish, moronic Randian beliefs of the wealthy conservative right, and their success in convincing some poor and middle class people that the rich are "suffering" because of high taxes) is the ridiculous editing of Obama's speech, and its acceptance by the same stupid people.

Obama was speaking truthfully and honestly, and yet they attempt to make it look very different from what it was. I know a right winger who is very aware of what was done with the video, yet he chortles like a child at the edit, and paradoxically, I'm sure he believes in it.

Honestly, there's something seriously wrong with them.

BTW, Love the use of the phrase "We all stand on the shoulders of giants." I was thinking the very same thing when I watched Obama deliver the speech. :)

ardenwoodpatti said...

This brought a smile to my face. I don't know if you remember Lily Tomlin on a C-Span broadcast during the 1996 signing of the Telecom Reform Act. "One ringy-dingy. Two ringy-dingy."

The signing ceremony was broadcast from the Library of Congress. If not for the dedicated weekend work of a few technology experts (including my husband Joe), that broadcast would never have happened. Those experts were vendors that were never publicly acknowledged. The infrastructure was there, but only a few people knew abut it.

I still remember fork-feeding Joe our fresh swordfish dinner while he speed-dialed contacts to get the right people talking to each other and the appropriate equipment in the right place.

I think I have a VHS tape of the broadcast somewhere.

That was another reason we ended up with flatcoats instead of smooth collies. Some of those calls were made while we attended a collie regional specialty in Pennsylvania. It's hard to pay attention to the dogs when the White House is calling.

Luca Swank said...

Thank you for another wonderful post.

The most laughable (if only it weren't so sad) example of someone wearing those ridiculous rose-colored blinkers was Craig T. Nelson on Glenn Beck's show. He actually said with a straight face, "I've been on food stamps and welfare; anybody help me out? No." And, of course, Beck doesn't call him on it.