No, Obama Isn’t Taking Credit For Building Your Business

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Out-of-context quoting is a time-honored tradition in American politics — and everyone else’s politics too, I assume — but sometimes it simply gets unbearable. Here is President Obama yesterday:

Look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own….If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. [Etc. etc.]

….Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business—you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

Conservatives are going absolutely nuts over the bolded sentence. But can we please stop the idiocy? What Obama meant — obviously, plainly, clearly — is that you, the business owner, didn’t build the roads and bridges. Just like you didn’t build the internet that you also use as part of your business. This is consistent with the entire theme of his speech, which is dedicated to the proposition that all of us benefit from outside help, including stuff that the government provides. Not only is this uncontroversial, it’s positively banal.

In a nutshell: Obama didn’t say that someone else built your business. He did say that someone else built the roads that benefit your business. All clear now?

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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