Young Voters Speak Out: Each day, RR.com will spotlight politically minded youth writers from throughout the U.S. speaking their minds on Election 2012. First-time voters, student journalists and new graduates will debate the Obama vs. Romney race to the White House. Young Democrats, Republicans and ‘Undecided’ Americans are eager to play politics and choose the next Commander & Chief.
Read Adam Poltrack's thoughts from a left-leaning perspective:
What Obama said, or didn't say at a Roanoke, Virginia campaign event back in July, was merely an echo of the explosion that Massachusetts Senate Candidate Elizabeth Warren unleashed in a speech last year. Warren's speech touched on all of the same points as Obama's and was the first time in the last two decades that I've heard a politician publicly challenge the self-serving American ethos that says, 'MY success is due to MY hard work.' The whole Horatio Alger, pull yourself up by your own bootstraps bit, had been lather-rinse-repeated to death by both parties for the last 20 years. By Republicans; because they're actually foolish enough to believe it, and by Democrats; because America was prospering and if it ain't broke don't fix it.
What Warren -- and later, Obama -- did was highlight a core belief of liberals that barking conservative pundits had scared them into concealing. Liberals believe in the social contract, in a collective, in those who've benefited the most from society, owing more back to it than others. Liberals believe that you built that -- but that society was the reason that you were able to. It's the reason marauding bands of barbarians didn't set it on fire, the reason bandits can't steal from it. The reason your business belongs to you in the first place, is that somewhere along the line, we all agreed that it did.
Society is a compact, a compromise built to achieve a greater good. And most of the people who say that social programs coddle the disadvantaged and that survival of the fittest is the only natural law, would be out in the cold if you stripped the civilization's layers away. If it's socialism to say that we cooperate to allow continued opportunity for our fellow citizens, then so be it.
Nowadays it's considered an argument against something to say that it's GASP, socialist. But that's not an argument, that's a statement. And Socialism sounds less and less damning with each day that passes and with each mile added to the growing gulf between the 1 percent and everyone else.
A group of individuals cannot build a society, they must be woven in a common thread, linked in a common chain. A group of self-serving, ambitious individuals cannot sustain a nation; what it can do, is bring it to its knees. This November, the question will not be what we have built, but what we'd like to build, whether new age progressivism will allow us to succeed together, or whether outdated rhetoric will cause us to fail alone.
Forget the fact that it was taken out of context, or the fact that Romney said much the same thing a week later, this is a debate that Democrats have avoided engaging in for too long. Now is the time. With a struggling society and an absurdly successful upper strata, Americans are ready to talk about who built that, and what they'd like to construct together.