One of the unsung stories of the Republican Convention was the common thread amongst it minority speakers dispelling the myth that the United States is class-based society. Unlike other nations of the world where the class system has existed within their country as a remnant of the feudal system they left behind, the United States lacks that history. Since the Pilgrims set foot on Plymouth Rock, this land has been the place were success is not based on birth, but rather on life. We are all blessed with the same opportunity for advancement and, individually, we are responsible for our life’s progression.
On Tuesday, Mia Love came to the podium to tell the country how her “parents immigrated to the U.S. with ten dollars in their pocket, believing that the America they had heard about really did exist.” Ted Cruz told the story of his father, “imprisoned and tortured in Cuba, beaten nearly to death. He fled to Texas in 1957, not speaking English, with $100 sewn into his underwear. He washed dishes making 50 cents an hour to pay his way through the University of Texas, and to start a small business in the oil and gas industry.” Nikki Haley followed that with a story of her parents. Immigrants from India, they instilled this into their children, “my parents loved that when they came to America, if you worked hard, the only things that could stop you were the limits you placed on yourself.” Her parents then went on to start “a business out of the living room of our home and, 30-plus years later, it was a multimillion dollar company.”
On Wednesday, Condoleezza Rice gave her impassioned speech about American leadership and prosperity including this personal story about “a little girl grows up in Jim Crow Birmingham – the most segregated big city in America - her parents can’t take her to a movie theater or a restaurant – but they make her believe that even though she can’t have a hamburger at the Woolworth’s lunch counter – she can be President of the United States and she becomes the Secretary of State.” After Ms. Rice, Gov. Susana Martinez told America her story of “Growing up I never imagined a little girl from a border town could one day become a governor. But this is America. In America algo es possible.” A second generation immigrant, her parents taught her “to never give up and to always believe that my future could be whatever I dreamt it to be. Success, they taught me is built on the foundation of courage, hard work and individual responsibility.”
On the final night of the Convention, Marco Rubio, a son of Cuban immigrants addressed the nation. He began talking about his Grandfather’s life in Cuba and how “the dreams he had when he was young became impossible to achieve” because of the Cuba government. Rubio went on to discuss the life of his parents. “My mother was one of seven girls who parents often went to bed hungry so their children wouldn't. My father lost his mother when he was nine. He had to leave school and to go to work, and he would work for the next 70 years of his life. They immigrated to America with little more than the hope of a better life. My dad was a bartender. My mom was a cashier, a hotel maid, a stock clerk at Kmart. They never made it big. They were never rich, and yet they were successful, because just a few decades removed from hopelessness, they made possible for us all the things that have been impossible for them.”…”My dad used to tell us -- (SPEAKING IN SPANISH) -- in this country, you'll be able to accomplish all the things we never could.”
These stories are a not just a part of the lives of immigrants, they are the lives of many United States citizens. I myself remember the sacrifices my parents made for my siblings and I. We were by no means rich. Living in a duplex owned by my grandfather on the near Southside of Milwaukee, our neighborhood was solidly blue collar. It was a far cry from upper class suburbs. Our community was plagued by a poor performing public school. To ensure that we recieved a quality education, they made the significant financial commiment to send us to a private high school (this is prior to the freedom the choice program offers). Not unlike Marco Rubio, my parents were successful because they instilled in me the knowledge that I was not locked into my station in life, that I was only held down by my own desire to succeed.
The stories that each of these speakers presented to the nation are contrary to the story being told by the Democrats. The Obama Campaign wants you to believe that the American story is one of class divisions, one of unequal opportunity based on your birth and one of aristocratic control of wealth to the detriment of the poor. In order to accomplish this, quoting Ted Cruz, “They’re going to try to separate us into little groups, and try to scare everybody”, in order to usher in a new era of class warfare. Not to be mistaken, the citizens of the United States have always had there individual struggles and there has from time to time been wealthy individuals with malicious intent; however, on the broad national scale, class designation has been absent from our history. When inequality reared its ugly head, our country made changes, we fought wars and amended our constitution to ensure that all men and women were given equal opportunity.
Mia Love warned us all that “President Obama's version of America is a divided one — pitting us against each other based on our income level, gender, and social status.” This is evident with Obama’s own campaign. Obama will fight for the middle class, as if they are unable to succeed without him. African Americans for Obama has it own page on the Obama website, segregating them out from the rest of the population. Julia is the story of US women being granted success through government intervention, rather then personal determination. In each case, you are identified for your birth rather than your life as an American. This designation takes us back to a time before the existence of this new world when equal opportunity didn’t exist; instead, you were identified as the class you were born into. It is not the forward looking vision of a unifier. Class warfare looks behind us to a time of monarchs and peasants. Class designation in the US is not something we are born with, it is something that one must accept. In believing the premise that our country is divided into classes you relinquish your freedoms to an overreaching government.
While many excellent ideas came out of the GOP Convention, the strong desire for every American to prosper was the central theme. Not through some half baked ideal of government dependence, but through your own blood and sweat. Recently in a blog thread a commenter said that home ownership was the best way to ensure the success of a neighborhood because people took responsibility for what was theirs. The same can be said for success. When you create your own success through the work of your own mind and hands, the rewards extend far beyond the hope and change a political official can give you.
Let me part with the conclusion of Mia Love’s speech at the convention, as she says it better then I.
“The American Dream is our story. It is a story of human struggle, standing up and striving for more. It's been told for over 200 years with small steps and giant leaps; from a woman on a bus to a man with a dream; and the bravery of the greatest generation, to the entrepreneurs of today.
This is our story. This is the America we know because we built it.”