They built that: how a Republican lie turned into an alternate universe
- guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 29 August 2012 18.41 EDT
"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. 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."
"You didn't build that."
"Republicans say they value low taxes and hard work but fought until the 11th hour against the only tax levied directly on work: the payroll tax."
One can believe that government should play a less direct role in the workings of the private economy – clearly, this is a defensible notion. But to listen to Republicans harping on Obama's "you didn't build that" line is to hear a party that views "government" in the most simplistic imaginable terms. This isn't a governing philosophy; it's a caricature of how the economy actually works.
To be sure, it's hardly unusual for political rhetoric to take liberties with the truth, or to stretch an argument to breaking-point, but with Republicans today, the issues runs much deeper. Very simply, the way they talk about what the federal government does or should do, and about the role of spending, taxation and regulation, is more than just a compendium of lies: it describes an alternate reality.
In the GOP's defense: at least they can argue they built that.
• Editor's note: this article originally identified Mary Fallin as governor of Nebraska; this was amended to Oklahoma at 12.30am on 30 August 2012