Recently, I awoke at 5 a.m. to the sound of my 6-month old daughter Amelia crying. When I entered her dark room to soothe her, I saw my wife, struggling to stay awake, holding Amelia in one arm as she was attempting to work on her barely lit computer screen with her other arm. My wife Paula is an entrepreneur and a small business owner. She also happens to be a first generation immigrant, who suffered through much chasing her American dream—all of her hard work culminating in her pledging allegiance to our flag as part of her citizenship ceremony. We both remember this as one of the proudest days of our lives.
I am writing of this incident because it succinctly describes a scenario repeating itself all over America today. Small business owners are making incredible sacrifices in their struggles to keep their businesses afloat. This is the reason why the president’s “you didn’t build that” comment has infuriated Americans across the political spectrum. The simple fact is that my wife did build “that.” She built her business, through countless hours of hard work and a commitment to a quality work product. I marvel daily at the countless hours she spends at her home office designing and repairing small business websites. She is the very epitome of the American dream, collectively enhanced but most importantly, self-made and personally driven.
The president’s statements are equally infuriating because he is attempting to create a fissure between Americans where there isn’t one. No Republican I am aware of is running for office on a platform of no taxes, no roads, no teachers and no military. I cite these examples because the president chose to mention the use of roads, the work of good teachers and the development of the backbone of the modern internet, through a military research initiative, as examples of how government should be the primary recipient of accolades for individual success. This is absurd and displays a backward logic which is hard to justify. It is the very success of people, such as my wife, willing to put their names behind a business endeavor, with no guarantee of success, that finance government projects. It is my wife’s, along with millions of others struggling for a better tomorrow, sweat, toil and willingness to take a risk that has made America exceptional amongst nations, not its roads.
The economy is clearly struggling. Americans are hurting and they are scared. Scared that for the first time, yesterday may have been the best it was ever going to be. This outlook has never been a component of our national psyche. The president’s statements will haunt him in this election as they echo all over our vast country. As my wife and I struggle through this historically poor economic recovery, I feel the pain of Americans hoping and praying that there is a better tomorrow and I ask the president to stop creating division by asking who built what, and to focus on getting our growing legion of unemployed Americans, just asking for a chance to build anything, back to work.