In a few days, more than 35,000 people are expected to fill the Charlotte region for the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Our hotels will be filled and Lake Norman businesses are excited about the prospects of getting a boost in sales. When asked recently what I thought of the national convention held in our backyard, I replied, “For the Chamber, it isn’t about being a red state or blue…at least for the weeks ahead, Lake Norman’s water’s will be green!” Anyway you look at it, the exposure, attention, and spending will be great for the Charlotte region and our local economy.
Those who know me, and most of you do, know that I love politics. While a conservative, I am just as much an admirer of Bobby and John Kennedy as I am of Lee Atwater. When you get right down to it, politics is about relationships and the art of the deal – the essence of business. So it is perhaps only natural I have a love and fascination for both.
In late July, one of our own local business members made national news reacting to the words of President Obama. In a speech, President Obama said, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that…” Rion Homes President, and Lake Norman Chamber member, Nicole Goolsby pointed out – “Yes she did!” Nicole responded she took out a $15,000 loan on her credit card and set up a desk in her bedroom 12 years ago. From there Nicole built a solid business and gave back to the industry by serving as the president of the Lake Norman Home Builders Association.
Nicole was one of literally hundreds who responded with their story. America is built on entrepreneurship, small business, and hard work. If I added a “PS” to any of their statements it would be government doesn’t solve economic problems. People and businesses will if government simply gets out of the way.
The President indeed said those words. However, he actually said more than that. He had begun the conversation by saying there are a great many successful people but you didn’t get there on your own. If you read the context of his speech in its entirety, he wasn’t trying to take away from the small business owner or entrepreneur.
A sentence lost in his speech that he actually said was, “Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have… that allowed you to thrive.” It’s unfortunate we live in an age when people take words out of context, lift one or two sentences from a speech – disregarding others, or read into letters or emails their own interpretation offering their unique and often biased spin.
Within days of the President’s speech, parodies were made on the old Jefferson Starship song “We built this city.” Those of us who remember the classic 1985 song, might also remember a verse that said, “Don’t tell us you need us, ‘cos we’re the ship of fools – Looking for America, coming through your schools.”
The political season and sometimes politics in general brings out the ship of fools in many of us. Let’s hope the kids in school now don’t allow us to be their mentors in how best to govern. Perhaps they will take note on how to do a better job when its their turn at the helm.
Lost in all that hoopla was the President’s closing line – “We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people… You’re not on your own, we’re in this together.”
Republican or Democrat, Conservative or Liberal, Red or Blue – that’s at least one thing we should all agree on. Together we built this city and we’re all in it together!