Senator Booker derides the notion of 'rugged individualism'

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker spoke at the DNC last night and proceeded to create an alternate past for America.

There was no such thing as a "Declaration of Independence," said Booker.  It was a "declaration of interdependence."  And he pooh-poohed the notion that America was built on "rugged individualism."  Instead, all major accomplishment of the U.S. were done "together" meaning, of course, thanks to the government.

Washington Examiner:

"I respect and value the ideals of rugged individualism and self-reliance, but rugged individualism didn't defeat the British, it didn't get us to the moon, build our nation's highways. Rugged individualism didn't map the human genome. We did that together," Booker said. "We can't devolve into a nation where our highest aspiration is that we just tolerate each other. We are not called to be a nation of tolerance. We are called to be a nation of love."

Booker called on the "nation of love" to stand against Trump and noted the GOP nominee's disparaging and mocking comments about women, Mexicans, and a disabled journalist as chief among the reasons why.

"We have a presidential nominee in Hillary Clinton who knows that, in a time of stunningly wide disparities of wealth in our nation, America's greatness must not be measured by how many millionaires and billionaires we have, but by how few people we have living in poverty," Booker said. "She knows that debt-free college is not a gift, it's not charity, it's an investment. It represents the best of our values, the best of our history, the best of our party."

He continued, "Hillary Clinton knows what Donald Trump betrays time and again in this campaign: that we are not a zero-sum nation, it is not you or me, it is not one America against another America. It is you and I, together, interdependent, interconnected with one single interwoven destiny."

Booker's message to the full convention differed somewhat from his message to the Democratic black caucus on Monday morning. His speech before the full convention touted Clinton over Trump, but his speech to the black caucus used Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine to sell the Democratic ticket.

"As much as I love our ticket, and I served in the Senate with Tim Kaine, he's ... extraordinary, when America discovers the gem that he is, I think you're going to be very excited," Booker told the black caucus. "I'm very excited about the top of the ticket, but I want you to know that ultimately the test of our future's not going to be about who's on the ballot, but it's going to be about us."

Booker's reinvention of American history is laughable.  More importanly, he misses the point about "rugged individualism."  "Rugged individualism and self-reliance" are the cornerstones of personal liberty.  With the exception of the defeat of the British (or any other enemy against which America has fought a war), all of those government projects he mentioned are inventions of post-World War II America, when government expanded to the Leviathan it is today. 

What of the previous 175 years?  As far as road-building, the states were wholly responsible for that.  Other transportation projects like the Erie Canal were built by "rugged individualists."  Villages, towns, and cities were founded by one individual or a group of individuals in voluntary association.  Universities were established by religions or rich benefactors. 

Booker's comments bring to mind Elizabeth Warren's observation that "you didn't build that."  She, too, missed the point.  Government can build roads, establish schools to educate workers, and accomplish other infrastructure that helps a private business thrive.  But for the most part, all of the things that government does would have been built anyway.  The spark of creativity in individuals is the defining characteristic of the American people, and more often than not, government has gotten in the way of progress rather than helped it. 

Like Michelle Obama exaggerating the notion that the White House was built by slaves, Booker deliberately exaggerates the role of government in building America.  More than that, he cheapens the idea of individual liberty as the driving force in American history.

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