TAMPA–There was a clear theme at Tuesday’s opening session of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum: President Obama and his policies are the biggest obstacle to economic and job growth in America.
Speaker after speaker, from House Speaker John Boehner to up-and-coming Utah Congressional candidate Mia Love to Ohio Gov. John Kasich, hammered away at the president’s lack of understanding of how business works—in contrast to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who, of course, spent most of his career at Bain Capital.
The early part of the evening—before Anne Romney and keynoter New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie spoke—was focused relentlessly on small business people, several of whom appeared at the podium along with the politicians.
And it all came down to the slogan of the evening: “We built it.” That, of course, was from the huge gaffe the president made a couple of months ago when he declared, “you didn’t get that on your own…You didn’t build that.”
That statement, taken out of context (the president was specifically referring to the fact that government helped build infrastructure, educate people, etc.), nonetheless struck a nerve and hit at a truth: the president doesn’t really empathize with small business people or business people in general.
With its “we built it” theme, the GOP returns to its roots as the small businessman’s party which reached from Presidents Coolidge, Harding, and Hoover in the 1920s to Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.
And as someone who is building an entrepreneurial enterprise, I have a lot of empathy for small businesspeople. I’m one of them.
But small businesspeople, vital as they are to job creation and to our economic health, represent only 15% of the adult population. Most people are employees of one kind or another. What is government supposed to do for them? Nothing? Should it really just get out of the way and let businesses create jobs and forget about everything else except the military?
Not a word was said about that, either because Republicans think that economic growth and job creation will take care of that “everything else” or maybe they just don’t want to dot the “I”s and cross the “t”s to say, “it’s just not our problem.”