Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Republican Heresy--Who Built It?

As I watched the Republican Convention I couldn't help but notice the big sign emblazoned across the Arena: WE BUILT IT. As the Convention began speaker after speaker intoned these words: We build it! This has become the mantra of this year's convention. But I couldn't help but wonder: did the public sector build this gorgeous space? And so I did a little internet work. This arena is called the Tampa Bay Times Forum. It was formerly the Tampa Bay Ice Palace. This building was publicly financed. In 1996 $86 million dollars came from public funds. Recently there was added a $40 million renovation which was privately funded. The  Republican National Convention has added $20 million to get the place ready for their Convention. All this can be found in Alexander Abad-Santos' article of August 22.

For a long time I have bothered by this braggadocio idea:  "I did it." In my hometown of Bibb City outside Columbus, Georgia the important people drove Cadillacs and Buicks. They lived in beautiful houses back down the road from the tiny mill houses. These bosses were in charge of things and you had better be respectful or you would be out of a job and a place to live. These self-made men probably never thought about who helped make them who they were. A multitude of workers with lint in their hair and gnarled fingers and some missing fingers and arms. These were the folk that really built the mill. Without them there would be no important people tooling around keeping an eye on the place in their Buicks and Cadillacs. I am thankful that my folks had a place to work when they fled from the desolate farm in the depression. I am even grateful for that four-room house with an indoor toilet where we lived. I am grateful that the mill provided my first job where I made money for college. I am grateful for my heritage that taught me so much. But I know deep in my heart that there are no self-made people.We are all interconnected.

This country was not built by George Washington alone or any of the other founding fathers. It was fashioned  into the wonderful country it is today--by peasants and preachers and slaves and domestics and a whole cadre of people who could drive around later in Buicks and Cadillacs. So--like I learned from checking the history of the Convention Center in Tampa--we can't do it without each other.

And on Labor Day Weekend our circle is large indeed. I wish our brothers and sisters in Tampa could move over and make room for immigrants and gays and those women having a hard time and all those little people who will be kept from the polls this year because they can't drive a car or know how to fill out the complicated papers we now insist at the voting precincts. No, no, no we didn't build it by ourselves.We really do stand on the shoulders of giants Republicans, Democrats, Mormons, Baptists, atheists and everybody else. I wondered what I was going to write about this Labor Day. I found what I have to say on a large banner in Tampa.

1 comment:

  1. Hear, Hear! We must indeed remember all who have labored and worked together. Thank you, Roger for bringing this to the readers.