Monday, July 16, 2012

Getting There

Today, Obama did what he does best: cause the Right to go into fits of rage by opening his mouth. The funny thing is, this tends to happen when Obama says something that is actually common sense.

Obama made a speech in which he asserted that individuals who are successful are not successful on their own, that they always get help from other people. His argument is that no one can succeed in a vacuum, and that somewhere along the line every successful individual got help. If you think about it, that is undoubtedly the case. In a literal sense, no person is born successful. We all need someones help at some point in our lives. We have to learn from good teachers and loving parents, we have to be inspired by others, and we have to be encouraged by supportive people to achieve success.

So, why is it that those on the Right are up in arms about the President pointing this out? Do they believe, or want others to believe, that success is ingrained in certain people, that they're destined for greatness, and that their wealth and privilege have more to do with their own work and choices than with the encouragement of others? Do they think that those who become prominent businessmen do so because of their own natural aptitude, and without any kind of help? It certainly seems that way.

And that kind of thinking would fit into the mantra that is espoused all the time. The conservatives who are angry about what Obama said are the same conservatives who say that a) if you're poor it's your own fault, b) all you have to do is work hard to be successful, and c) there should be no help for people who can't afford it.

The funny thing is, no one can succeed on their own. What this idea does is sets success apart from the average American. They see it as something you're born with, something you have to have intrinsically, and as something that simply happens to people. But that's not the case. Anyone has the potential to be successful, but they have to have certain characteristics, and some of those are beyond your control. The right family upbringing, the right education, the right motivation and encouragement; without those things, success becomes harder to achieve, and the definition of "success" changes. But no one does it on their own. There is always help.

I'm not sure what Conservatives hope to gain from their spouting off on this issue. They seem to take this as an affront to business owners, which is particularly silly since business owners themselves are not so outspoken about these remarks. In fact, it's only the pundits who are taking issue. In short, it's fuel for the fire, nothing more.

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