So said Barack Obama recently in response to charges by Mitt Romney that the president is running a campaign of hate and anger. Reasonable people, the saying goes, can disagree and still get along. But how true is that when people perceive the causes the other side is fighting for do harm? The point? Obama doesn’t have to try and divide the country. It is already divided.
I certainly would never make the argument that anything can actually be done about that fact beyond one side definitively defeating the other and ultimately forcing a large and permanent political re-alignment on the nation in their side’s favor. Barring such a happy or calamitous result (depending on your point of view), you have the left and you have the right and — while on some issues they can come together and agree — two so diametrically opposing world-views not only will not, but indeed cannot, find very much common ground.
But for the president to suggest that he and his supporters are not divisive is, at best, darkly amusing. Take Joe Biden’s recent comments while campaigning in Danville, Va. After stating that Republicans wanted to unchain Wall Street by deregulation, he added, “They’re going to put y’all back in chains.”
Whatever Biden meant, “back in” can only truly mean one thing when speaking to Americans about chains. As Obama could not possibly have been elected to the presidency without a very large number of white voters, what does that mean? Only people obsessed with race can know for sure.
And what of the pro-Obama commercial that attempts to link Romney to a woman’s death due to cancer? The facts are that, while Joe Soptic indeed lost his job, it wasn’t until five years later that his wife died. She also did not lose her own health insurance when Soptic lost his job. She kept her employer-sponsored coverage at least a year after that, something with which neither Bain Capital nor Mitt Romney had anything to do. As FactCheck.org points out, there are a lot of “mights” in Soptic’s story, most importantly that his wife might have found out soon enough to do something about the cancer had he still had his coverage. But perhaps just as importantly — a “might” Soptic leaves out — is that he might have lost his job and health insurance a lot earlier then he actually did had Bain not invested first $8 million and later $16.5 million in the company at which Soptic worked.
Divisive? Or merely disgusting?
And then there is Obama himself. Of course, it's easy to see why many Americans love Obama. Granted, that statement should be qualified by adding that I mean Americans ignorant of history, economics and human nature; in short, reality itself.
How could they not?
After reading the recent remarks made by Obama in now what can only be termed as his infamous speech in Roanoke, Va., the message is just the kind of nonsense that resonates with either those so rich they don’t have to care or those who, inexplicably, believe dependency leads to stronger families and communities rather than the evident nightmare it actually creates.
While the whole speech is riddled with his endlessly repeated, innocent-sounding euphemisms for promoting both individual irresponsibility at home and a weaker nation overall, the real bombshell in Obama’s speech occurred near its end. Mingled, as all good fiction is, with a spoonful of truth, Obama made the following observation:
“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.”
“If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that; somebody else made that happen” is perhaps one of the most divisive things Obama has ever said.
I’m willing to concede that he could have, as some claim, meant that they did not build those roads and bridges he referred to in the sentence before. And the fact cannot be disputed that no man is an island. Every successful person can look back to a teacher, parent, mentor or friend who made a difference in their life. Regardless, the whole passage nevertheless makes it crystal clear — as backed up by Obama’s whole philosophy, his actions as president, and his other speeches as well as his tone in this speech — that he feels government is the answer to every problem, the parent for every child, the friend to every man, and the solution to every ill that plagues humanity.
Those that stand on the other side of this argument could not disagree more, hence the divide, hence the irreconcilable differences.
Look at America today and you’ll find all the evidence you need that government is not the be-all, end-all to mankind’s problems. As government has taken on greater and greater responsibilities, and as our local communities, families and churches have given them up, is America really better? Is there less crime? Less violence? Less poverty? Less teenage pregnancy? How many single parent homes are there today? Leftist programs have helped destroy countless families and this, in turn, has produced more of the aforementioned problems. How many people today live in a never-ending cycle of dependency upon government? It doesn’t take a genius to realize such dependency is the soup in which despair simmers.
This is a better America?
I’m not talking about doing away with providing assistance or even cradle-to-grave support for those who truly cannot help themselves, or even a temporary safety net for those who suddenly find themselves unemployed. Liberals, however, love to twist beyond all recognition what conservatives really mean when they want to reform entitlements and prevent taxes like Social Security from consuming more and more of the nation’s productivity. Liberals want you to believe that conservatives seek to gut these programs and let little old ladies starve to death. That’s nonsense. As a conservative, I can at least say that I know most liberals mean well. If they only used reason to back up their intentions then they could stop being impediments to the rise in the standards of living for countless Americans. But to liberals, conservatives only want “millionaires and billionaires” to get tax cuts and to not have to “pay their fair share.” This is also nonsense. And it continues to remain nonsense no matter how many times Obama says it. But demonizing the adults in the room serves to win over the support of the previously-mentioned ignorant Americans who go on to vote for their own narrow self-interest at the expense of the nation’s long-term well-being.
Their plan is simply, sadly, to attack the successful, those who work hard, who build businesses, and who, without government force being applied, give back whether they intend to or not. Men and women who build their business also help build communities. They open doors to not only the paycheck a job brings, but also doors to benefits, health insurance and saving for retirement. They also provide, while intangible, something just as important as the paycheck and benefits: the honor and the fulfillment of the internal need inside that can be found only in performing honest labor.
You also can’t credibly ignore the fact that the infrastructure Obama praises was bought and paid for by those very business owners and their employees through their tax dollars. You can’t credibly ignore the fact that, while obviously they had help along the way, business owners had the idea, took the risk, worked the hours and made something happen. You can’t credibly ignore the fact that most of us would still be farmers working our own land were it not for the benefits business owners and risk takers and capitalists who, hand-in-hand with labor, made America what it is today. You can’t credibly ignore the fact that government also played a small part this story. But to slap these innovators in the face by implying, as Obama clearly does, that somehow it is government that is the real engine that drives this success is, at best, to be grossly misinformed.
And very divisive.
But the most divisive part of Obama's speech, and perhaps I should say most shocking as well, can be found in these lines: “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.”
This from the man who used the word “I” more than 100 times in his Roanoke speech. This from the man who, during his time in the Senate, produced nothing of note. This from the man who owes his election not to his own talent and non-existent record but rather to the happenstance of being at the right places at the right times. This from the Nobel Peace Prize winner who, in the committee’s own press release, sites only Obama’s “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples” without any actual results to point to.
The one thing Obama actually does do well is speak, and it’s a talent he misuses in his effort to insult the men and women who make up the backbone of this great nation. His words are an attack upon the very soul of capitalism, perhaps born in the realization of mediocrity and in the jealousy and envy of what he himself cannot achieve, or perhaps cannot achieve without special consideration due to factors other than his talent. Much has been given to him, unearned, and therefore much must be given to others to validate his own lack of personal achievement. If this, perhaps, isn’t his own intent, it most certainly is for many of those who vote for him: the give-to-me, protect-me, take-care-of-me permanent voting block created by the grossly misnamed “Great Society” programs.
Perhaps this collective nonsense Obama pushes is his out for the one thing he most certainly did “make happen” but doesn’t want to claim as his own: a disastrous, failed presidency as empty of achievement as the modern liberal philosophy that spawned it.
Jeff O’Bryant is the author of “Up into the Hills – A Brief History of Catoosa County” and holds two degrees: a bachelor’s in education and a bachelor’s with honors in history. He can be contacted at email@example.com.