The man now occupying the White House has been in the news lately for seemingly making one of the most absurd statements in his entire career. He stated in a recent speech, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that…” The pundits and the Romney campaign have been both using this quote and not understanding it at the same time.
Did Obama send an underlying message when he said those words? Or did he merely make an off-the-cuff remark and a political gaffe? Either way, it represents a very frightening ideology that Mr. Obama embraces.
You didn’t build that? Reagan said you did
Let’s compare this remark to one by President Ronald Reagan. Reagan, by contrast, said:
The American dream is not that every man must be level with every other man. The American dream is that every man must be free to become whatever God intends he should become.
The reason this is a contrasting statement is due to the contrasting ideologies of these two men. Reagan believed in capitalism and that the proper role of government was to stay out of your way. Although much of the political conversation these days centers on government’s proper financial role, little of it centers on the central dividing point: the love of liberty. Once again, Reagan understood this:
I hope we have once again reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: as government expands, liberty contracts.
Obama wants to tear that down
Barack H. Obama. Photo: Pete Souza, January 13, 2009
In his quest to demonize America’s success stories, Mr. Obama has made very revealing statements that defy the political ideologies of President Reagan. Obama’s recent quote: “You didn’t build that…” is indicative of his point of view. It is not as clear to many as it should be that Obama’s campaign message to fundamentally change this nation was not a promise filled with hope for better days. It was a dire warning. The “You didn’t build that” statement has a flip side that has gone unnoticed. “You didn’t build that” means that American success stories are not to be credited to those who attained success but to the government. As he promotes that point of view, he can easily justify taking from those who have. After all, if success is not theirs and it belongs to the government, then the government is entitled to the fruits of this success. If you didn’t build that, you don’t own that. And so any American is entitled to anything the government owns. Understanding this sheds new light on Obama telling us that the wealthy should give their fair share. His point of view is that they are not solely entitled to the fruits of their labor because it is not the fruits of their labor. Therefore it becomes only “fair” that government take what government rightfully owns.
What the Constitution really says
Some of our representatives do understand that the basic role of government is to stay out of our way, or as Reagan put it:
… that every man must be free to become whatever God intends he should become.
One of our more conservative representatives, Congressman Scott Garrett of New Jersey, in 2009 wrote an article for the NJ Family Policy Council wherein succinctly described the government’s role in providing for its people:
Let’s look at the very beginning of the Constitution, the Preamble. In its entirety, it is just one sentence long: “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.”
This passage is intended to sum up what the founders hoped to accomplish by writing the rest of the Constitution. Yet today, many Members of Congress take one phrase out of the Preamble and use it to justify a broad array of appropriations. They often say a specific project will “promote the general Welfare.” But there are several problems with this interpretation.
The founders did not intend for the federal government to “provide” for the general welfare in a literal sense. They didn’t envision a vast bureaucracy that would use citizen’s taxes to finance inefficient government programs. Rather, they hoped that the framework outlined in the Constitution would in and of itself promote the general Welfare. Therefore, we must look at the rest of the Constitution to see what powers are specifically granted to Congress. It is those powers, along with the powers of the executive and judicial branches, which are supposed to promote the general welfare.
Garrett was absolutely correct. The government should provide an environment where it is possible to pursue happiness. It is not the government’s role to supply happiness. Thomas Jefferson, one of the framers of our Constitution as well as our Declaration of Independence said:
A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor and bread it has earned – this is the sum of good government.
I contend that Mr. Obama’s recent statement, “You didn’t build that,” is not a gaffe. It is a good indication of the ideologies he embraces. Unfortunately, he has been successful in forcing his ideologies upon the rest of us. If he is able to continue on his path, he will have fulfilled his 2008 campaign promise and fundamentally have changed America. He may view this changed America as an improved America. I believe that if he is successful that he would have corrupted a once noble form of government. Thomas Jefferson had something to say about this as well:
When once a republic is corrupted, there is no possibility of remedying any of the growing evils but by removing the corruption and restoring its lost principles; every other correction is either useless or a new evil.
A closing prayer
I pray that God will enable us to remove this corruption and to restore our lost principles. A missionary I know once said:
Even God won’t steer a non-moving car.
Therefore, I further pray that America will wake up and start moving. “You didn’t build that”? Oh, yes, we did. And you didn’t build that, Mr. (Putative) President! The future of America as the great bastion of hope and freedom lies in the balance.
I will end with a call to prayer made by Benjamin Franklin at a time in history when our Founders were unsuccessfully wrestling with the construction of our form of government. Benjamin Franklin’s call to prayer is relevant today. He stated:
…We indeed seem to feel our own want of political wisdom, some we have been running about in search of it. We have gone back to ancient history for models of Government, and examined the different forms of those Republics which having been formed with the seeds of their own dissolution now no longer exist. And we have viewed Modern States all round Europe, but find none of their Constitutions suitable to our circumstances.
In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the Contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection. ”Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a Superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that “except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages…
It has proved true time and time again. Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Our founders learned from history and created the greatest nation the world has ever known. Will we follow in their footsteps or will we be the generation that squanders liberty for government entitlements? If you love the noble ideas this country stands for – pray – pray for mercy. Pray that God will enable us to remove the corruption in government and that He will enable us to restore the biblical principles of liberty and freedom – fully realizing that these things are not entitlements; they are the gift of God.