Exactly which ‘we’ built this?


Who built this? That’s the question I asked myself after watching the Republican National Convention.

“We built this” became the RNC theme after President Barack Obama spoke in Roanoke, Va. about how successful people did not achieve success on their own. Republicans interpreted his “you didn’t build that” comment as snubbing entrepreneurs for creating booming businesses. Of course, if anyone listened to the whole speech instead of the 56 seconds FOX Newsaired, they would hear the president say that “public infrastructure” and “great teachers” played a big part in business owners’ success.  As I listened to every speaker use a variation of “we built that” in their speeches, I noticed that the meaning of “we” and “that” changed throughout the RNC

By, “that,” did speakers mean America and by, “we,” did they mean the wealthy and entrepreneurs built America?  If so, then I’m terribly confused. I thought African slaves, taken from their homeland and forced to pick cotton that resulted in the South’s booming agriculture and supplied the North’s industrial revolution, built America.  I thought European immigrants who built the Eerie Canal in New York and became coal miners built America. I thought women who entered the labor force during War World II after men left factories and plants built America.

But, if the Republican’s theme only refers to entrepreneurs who built a business from an idea or an invention, I would say that’s a specious argument. If anything, customers build a business. They spend their earnings to support entrepreneur’s ideas or products. They are the loyal customers who continue buying whatever those business owners are selling. It’s simple economics actually: consumer expenditures equal total revenue.

More importantly, laborers build businesses. In a capitalistic society like the United States, Americans are exploited. They work long hours at minimum wage jobs. Without labor, businesses don’t exist. They build relationships with those loyal customers. They are the ones who offer outstanding customer service that encourage those customers to return to that business. The middle class builds businesses and expands them into enterprises.

So, to answer the question I asked earlier, “Who built this?”

I did.