In 2005, Barack Obama had only been in the Senate for a few months, but he was already a rising star in the Democratic Party. Four years later, he would be in the White House, and seven years after that Donald Trump would be the Republican front-runner to replace him as president. He couldn’t have known that then, of course, when he mentioned The Apprentice star in a commencement address at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois.
(Hat tip Michael Scherer)
Here’s the relevant bit:
In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society. But in our past there has been another term for it – Social Darwinism, every man and woman for him or herself. It’s a tempting idea, because it doesn’t require much thought or ingenuity. It allows us to say to those whose health care or tuition may rise faster than they can afford – tough luck. It allows us to say to the Maytag workers who have lost their job – life isn’t fair. It let’s us say to the child born into poverty – pull yourself up by your bootstraps. And it is especially tempting because each of us believes that we will always be the winner in life’s lottery, that we will be Donald Trump, or at least that we won’t be the chump that he tells: “You’re fired!”
But there a problem. It won’t work. It ignores our history. It ignores the fact that it has been government research and investment that made the railways and the internet possible. It has been the creation of a massive middle class, through decent wages and benefits and public schools – that has allowed all of us to prosper. Our economic dominance has depended on individual initiative and belief in the free market; but it has also depended on our sense of mutual regard for each other, the idea that everybody has a stake in the country, that we’re all in it together and everybody’s got a shot at opportunity – that has produced our unrivaled political stability.