By Representative Renee Ellmers
"If you've been successful," Obama insisted, "you didn't get there on your own. [S]omebody along the line gave you some help. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business -- you didn't build that."
Outrage is the first word that comes to mind on hearing this. For it strikes at the core of what it means to be American and determine our own future.
We often forget that living here is as much a choice as a source of pride and tradition. Our ancestors made the decision to leave their homes, their families and their nations to come to this country -- on the chance that they would be successful and live a better life.
But why did they choose the United States and why do we - their children or descendants -- continue to embrace the principles that define the American dream?
We strive to make each day better than the last. But inherent in this is the fact that the benefits we gain are determined by our own personal definition of accomplishment. Whether it's strengthening a relationship, completing a project or solving a crisis, our actions and their consequences are based on our right to imagine for ourselves.
Some call this freedom, others define it as choice. But the goal has always remained the same: success.
Our life is a journey -- branching out in scattered directions. By God's grace and the foresight of our Founding Fathers, this journey is determined by our own free will and motivation. But success, according to Obama, can only be achieved if the government has had an integral part -- pushing you in the right direction.
So, using the president's logic, Michael Phelps won eight Olympic gold medals because the Federal Highway Administration built the roads to get him to swim practice. They also woke him up at 4 am each morning and forced him to train. Or Spanx undergarments -- which millions of women rely upon -- became a billion-dollar company because its founder, Sara Blakely, wanted to pay more taxes. Facebook is used by millions of people because of government research that led to the Internet -- not because Mark Zuckerberg created an online version of his college yearbook in a dorm room.
Oh, and that solar panel company Solyndra -- the one that went bankrupt after an investment of more than $500 million by the Obama administration? That never happened.
American success comes in spite of the burdens brought on by government control. Yet this year's election has already been framed by a choice between whether we want to rely on the government to determine our own destiny and happiness.
Here in the House, we continue to fight against the ideology that government is the answer to all our problems. But it remains up to the American people to determine who will defend their liberties in the Oval Office.
Unless we take a stand to protect our liberties and the free market system, we will lose the energy that has made our nation a pioneer of innovation and prosperity. Failure to do so will likely erode the entrepreneurial spirit that brings pride to our nation and still beats in the hearts of those seeking to come here.
Our individual success will ultimately enrich our communities, our families and our country. But the failure to stand up for the risks, dreams and courage of our job creators diminishes the work and sacrifice that made this possible.