I’ve found it fascinating to watch the reactions to Obama’s “You didn’t build that” speech in Roanoke. The reason it has caught fire is that it seems to be a glimpse into Obama’s mind and what he really thinks and believes. When Obama is speaking on teleprompter, he always comes across as inauthentic. It’s like he’s hiding something. This is in direct contrast to someone like Reagan who could speak off the cuff because he knew what he believed and wasn’t afraid to say it. That’s why the Roanoke speech stands out. It’s Obama in a rare unguarded moment. This is the real guy. This is how he thinks.
In my book Understanding American Exceptionalism I explain that there are two ways a society can be run. One is the “English Style”, or “Bottom Up” model. The other is the “French Style”, or “Top Down” version. The English Style believes in reserving as much power as possible to the individual citizen. In English style societies, power flows FROM the people. What makes America Exceptional is that it was founded as the ultimate “Bottom Up” society, going even further than the mother country or her closest siblings (Australia, or my own Canada) were willing to go. The “French Style”, as you might imagine, is the mirror opposite. It chooses to put its faith in the rule of the educated few at the expense of the many. It favours top down, government schemes and distrusts individual initiative.
To Obama’s detractors, which include myself, his Roanoke speech reveals that his true core philosophy is rooted in the idea of the French Style. To Obama, everything good or of value originates with the government. When he talks about things that we do together, he is not talking about the informal associations such as family or community organizations that Tocqueville spoke off. Rather, he is always talking about government imposed schemes. Things like the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam (which his government doesn’t build anyway) , or government directed investments in “Clean Energy” or high speed rail. This is directly opposed to the ideals on which America was founded. Even if your average American doesn’t understand the philosophy behind this, they get it in their gut. It’s a feeling that won’t go away. When Obama speaks this way, it is in a language that is profoundly un-American.
What is so amusing is that Obama’s defenders in the Main Stream Media largely agree with Obama’s point of view. This is why they struggle to understand why his Roanoke speech was such a big deal, and why they can’t extinguish it, no matter how hard they try. One of the most laughable attempts to defend Obama is the idea that he was talking about “Roads and bridges”, and not individual businesses. The invaluable Jon Nolte goes into more detail about this here. Everything he says is true, but there’s something else …
While doing research for my upcoming book on the top reasons Obama shouldn’t be re-elected (and if you have any more ideas, please read this!) I came across this Obama gem. When speaking at an Orlando Florida fundraiser on Oct 12, 2011, he said this:
“What’s great about this country is you’ve got a good idea, you’ve got a service that nobody else has thought of, you know what, go out there, start a business. Make money. I want everybody out there to be rich. That’s great. Anybody in America should be able to make it if they try. But none of us make it on our own. Somebody — an outstanding entrepreneur like a Steve Jobs — somewhere along the line he had a teacher who helped inspire him. All those great Internet businesses wouldn’t have succeeded unless somebody had invested in the government research that helped to create the Internet. We don’t succeed on our own. We succeed because this country has, in previous generations, made investments that allow all of us to succeed.”
So, what do we have here? Basically the same quote, but with no mention of roads or bridges. If you succeeded it’s not primarily due to your own drive and vision, but due to something the government did for you. Obama believes in government, not the individual American citizen. What other conclusion can you come to?