HomeObama's Subtle "You Didn't Build That" RhetoricEducationAtlas University
No items found.
Obama's Subtle "You Didn't Build That" Rhetoric

Obama's Subtle "You Didn't Build That" Rhetoric

3 Mins
January 31, 2014

If you missed President Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address or forgot about it as soon as he uttered the obligatory “God bless the United States of America,” you have at least this in common with your fellow Americans.

But in an election year it is useful to reflect on what Obama did in his address so you can anticipate how he might be selling his statism in the months to come.

Peppered propaganda

Obama did not do what his PR folks had telegraphed to us, that is, hammer “inequality”—i.e., the need to steal from the makers to give to the takers—or, in leftist-speak, to make things “fair.” Oh, that goal was there in his policy prescriptions, but he wrapped redistribution in a rhetoric that would appeal to middle-of-the-spectrum Americans rather than hard-core expropriators.

He peppered his propaganda with words like “responsibility.” He used the word “work” 67 times, often in variations like “hard-working.” And to appeal to all the out-of-work and out-of-the-workforce Americans, he used the word “job” 38 times.

He highlighted and praised some entrepreneurs. Maybe this was his way of making the entrepreneurs sitting right there in the House chamber in front of him as well as those watching on TV forget that in 2012 he told them, "If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen."

Collective credit

Of course, he gave the government credit for the achievements of others or argued, by implication, that private parties could achieve little without the state. Thus, he said, “My administration has launched two hubs for high-tech manufacturing in Raleigh and Youngstown, where we’ve connected businesses to research universities that can help America lead the world in advanced technologies.”

Gee, how would such a thing ever happen without billions of dollars in federal deficit spending? And speaking of “jobs,” how did the one named “Steve” manage to bring his business from an operation in his parents’ garage to the star of Silicon Valley without heavy government handouts?

It is with the sort of rhetoric he used in the State of the Union speech that Obama and his ilk subtly imprint collectivism in the hearts and minds of Americans. They fuzzy up the picture. They speak of the activities of entrepreneurs and the help from or “partnership” with government in the same breath. Then who achieved what will blend together in people's minds. So, business folks, Obama’s sticking with “You didn’t build that.”

Phony CEO

Obama was posing as the benevolent CEO of America, directing us all and bestowing on us benefits—health care, pay raises, whatever we want.

But, of course, the country is in such precarious economic shape because of his policies. He’s not the CEO. The country is not his “company” to manage.

He’s the doctor who breaks our legs and then offers quack remedies that in the long run only exacerbate our pain. And he charges an outrageous price, which includes the loss of our liberty and the destruction of the Constitutional system of checks and balances established by our Founders.

In his State of the Union address, Obama simply repackaged his collectivist and authoritarian ideology. So, if you missed it, you didn’t miss anything new. But you should be aware that he’s pushing the same old poison that continues to kill the country.
Hudgins is director of advocacy and a senior scholar at The Atlas Society.

For further information:

Edward Hudgins, “ Obama’s Grab-Bag Socialism. ” April 4, 2009.

Edward Hudgins, “ Obama’s Poison For Entrepreneurs. ” July 24, 2012.

Edward Hudgins, “ Fighting For Freedom Against Reelected Obama. ” November 7, 2012.

Edward Hudgins


Edward Hudgins

Edward Hudgins is research director at the Heartland Institute and former director of advocacy and senior scholar at The Atlas Society.

Edward Hudgins
About the author:
Edward Hudgins

Edward Hudgins, former director of advocacy and senior scholar at The Atlas Society, is the founder of the Human Achievement Alliance and can be reached at ehudgins@humanachievementalliance.org.

Ideas and Ideologies