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Kyle Luebke

Views & Voices

Actually, You didn’t build it.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Each evening this week, I have sat and watched the Republican National Convention.

Though such a focus upon the RNC might be construed as a large waste of my time – as I know that I am voting for President Obama – watching the event allows me to focus in upon what drives the Republican Party.

Though I could talk all day about my perceptions of the GOP, one aspect of the Convention has really stood out at me, and surprisingly, it is not the party’s stance on LGBT issues. Instead, it is the popular catchphrase that Republicans have been using for the past month that has irked me, the phrase “We Built It”.

This phrase, which conjures up the rugged individualism of “pulling one up by their bootstraps” to do something great, hearkens us back to an era when the government was little and the world was much, much smaller. Yet, even though the speeches at the RNC have all echoed this theme, the rugged individualism that is the underlying premise of this theme is actually an extremely arrogant position to take.

All of us depend, in some way, upon other people as well as government. We might not like to admit that, as it may pop the bubble of belief in how we create our own success, but a denial of this reality does not make that reality any less true.

I can use my own story to emphasize this point. By any objective level of analysis, I am doing pretty well for myself.

Yes, I am still a student, yet I graduated from undergrad with absolutely no debt and am currently a student at one of the United States’ great law schools. To achieve this result, I put time, energy, and countless hours into my studies.

While other friends were having fun, I realized the future goal of what I wanted to accomplish and I focused upon that instead of the temporary benefits that I would receive from spending time with my peers. I also, during that period, worked almost full-time hours to support both myself and my husband.

By Republican standards, I should be considered a “model” … I worked hard and am being rewarded for that work.


My story is not a complete picture of the successes that have accompanied my pursuits. Each portion of my tale has parts that can be conveniently left out if I chose to do so.

But to do so is not only intellectually dishonest, it is unfair to all who have assisted me in being where I am right now. Two things stand out at me when I look back at my life over the past five years.

First, I would not have been able to succeed academically in University without two things:

1. A mother that taught me how to study, what to focus my energy upon, and how to apply my knowledge, and;

2. Professors and Administrators at Memphis, Saskatchewan, and Brock (I did a few exchange programs) that had interest in me as a student and dedicated time and energy in ensuring that I was successful in my studies.

But, some might say, that is not what we are talking about, because the RNC position is not that other people cannot help you succeed, but that Government does not help you succeed. This gets to my second point.

After I did my months in “gay camp,” I thought that a college education was a pipe dream. I had no idea how I could afford to go to the University of Memphis, work full time, and still survive; in fact, I was struggling just to make ends meet.

Additionally, I was not able to get student loans to go to school because my parents would not fill out their portion of the FAFSA.

But what happened? I was given a scholarship by the University of Memphis so that I might attend their university – and subsequently, the Universities that I went on exchange too. Though this scholarship did not cover the entirety of my tuition, it was a substantial amount, and allowed me to go to school debt-free for all four years.

Without this scholarship, which should actually be considered “government money” as the University of Memphis is a public institution, I would not have been able to prove myself academically, and be where I am today.

What the GOP miss in their claim of “We Built It,” is that Democrats and Liberals do not believe that Government should be able to take the credit for what individuals, small businesses, or corporations achieve.

Instead, Democrats and liberals recognize that government investments – whether they are roads, bridges, police, military, research, or yes, even scholarships – allow each of us to achieve our full potential. Governmental investment is just that, investment. It is our society – through our tax dollars – investing in our nation’s future.

Without investments in things such as higher education, many Americans would not have the ability to achieve their dreams. I know that I wouldn’t have.

© Kyle Luebke.
For more by Kyle Luebke, click here to visit his blog.
Opinions and advice expressed in our Views & Voices columns represent the author's own views and not necessarily those of LGBTQ Nation. We welcome opposing views and diverse perspectives. To submit a article, column or video, contact us here. Due to the volume of submissions received, we cannot guarantee publication.

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14 more reader comments:

  1. I couldn’t stomach all that self-righteous lying.

    Posted on Thursday, August 30, 2012 at 9:09pm
  2. They built 80% of the debt.

    Posted on Thursday, August 30, 2012 at 9:15pm
  3. several racists attacked a black camerawomen from CNN at the RNC, throwing peanuts at her, and saying “This is how we feed the animals” Good lord, goes to show how much racism is within the Republican party. Do we want these type of people in our Government? Vote for whats best for our Country, and Republicans are NOT IT !!!

    Posted on Thursday, August 30, 2012 at 9:43pm
  4. Not to mention how they treated the rep from Puerto Rico. Shameful.

    Posted on Friday, August 31, 2012 at 12:06am
  5. stupid article… that money that liberals n democrats use to invest in roads, military, ect.. where ya think that money comes from?? WE THE PEOPLE… so yes we did build it.. idiot

    Posted on Friday, August 31, 2012 at 3:57am
  6. Tom, my article actually makes the point that you are trying to make. We as a society “build things” and provide the framework for individuals to realize success. The GOP, on the other hand, seem to not want to recognize this basic fact of our social compact.

    Posted on Friday, August 31, 2012 at 4:42pm
  7. Milton Friedman once asked the question on the very conservative “Free to Choose” series. This man is revered by Tea Party activists and fiscal conservatives. With that said, the question was really simple – “Where did this pencil come from?” If one really thinks about it, thousands of people from many parts of the world go into building that one pencil.

    Posted on Saturday, September 1, 2012 at 1:57pm
  8. Not a waste of time if you were able to learn anything to help us, the dems. Someone has to do the dirty work and you are correct they did not build it.

    Posted on Saturday, September 1, 2012 at 2:01pm
  9. What a marvelous piece. Thank you, Kyle Luebke, for sharing it!

    Posted on Saturday, September 1, 2012 at 2:05pm
  10. Yes, Romney built up companies only to have the tumble down in bankruptcy.

    Posted on Saturday, September 1, 2012 at 2:12pm
  11. BILKED not built. YOU BILKED US! out of trillions in fixed prices, in unnecessary wars, in outrageous fees, in lost taxes. NO MORE. MY NAME IS ANONYMOUS, YOU KILLED OUR PLANET PREPARE TO DIE.

    Posted on Saturday, September 1, 2012 at 2:44pm
  12. Yes we did build it! :)

    Posted on Saturday, September 1, 2012 at 3:09pm
  13. Sometimes, it seems to me, they’re trying to destroy it.

    Posted on Saturday, September 1, 2012 at 3:17pm
  14. I agree that government helps us achieve great things by not taking credit for the good things we achieve from it

    Posted on Saturday, September 1, 2012 at 6:20pm