Who's Fighting the War for Small Business?

BY: ON SATURDAY, JULY 21, 2012

America's businesses have taken center stage in a recent war of the words between President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney.

During a recent campaign event in Roanoke, Virginia, President Obama said the following:

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. 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. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

This statement has lit a fire under Romney, who has been under fire recently for the questions concerning his time as CEO of Bain Capital and the subsequent wealth that he has accumulated. Furthermore, questions concerning Mitt Romney's refusal to release his tax returns have also raised questions concerning the Republican hopeful's business practices. These attacks against Romney have been seen by opponents of the President as attacks on “success.”

The President's recent Roanoke speech gave Romney some firepower to take away from such distractions. Focusing specifically on the President's “you didn't build that” line, Romney fired back with the following:

“The idea to say that Steve Jobs didn’t build Apple, that Henry Ford didn’t build Ford Motor; to say something like that is not just foolishness. It’s insulting to every entrepreneur, every innovator in America. And it’s wrong.”

The Romney campaign also responded swiftly with video advertisements using the pieces of the President's speech. Furthermore, Obama's words have been seen by many as a declaration of “war on small businesses.”

Obama's campaign has accused Romney of taking the President's word out of context. In the aforementioned advertisement, for example, the President's mention of building infrastructure such as roads and bridges is removed, thus removing the context of actually building. In other words, the “you didn't build that” line doesn't literally refer to one's business, but rather the physical building that such a business might occupy. This has left the two campaigns sparring, with both the candidate and incumbent doing their best to appeal to the small business community and show them who's really on their side.

Regardless, the argument started by this debate is huge.

Firstly, it's a legitimate debate. It feels as if we don't see this sort of ideological discussion often enough.

Ask yourself. Who really builds a business? Is it the business owner? The employees? Is it the community that helps the business thrive? Is it the country? The government? There are many ways to answer and interpret such a question.

In a way, both Obama and Romney are correct. Forgot that they're running for office, forget that they're attempting to get your vote. President Obama is claiming that no man is an island, and that as a business in America, you are part of a greater community of both people and commerce that establish your business and what it's able to achieve. He's right. Mitt Romney is claiming that those who build their businesses deserve credit, and that those who work hard in this country deserve both recognition and help from a healthy economy in order to prosper. He's right, too.

Regardless of where they stand politically, they aren't wrong. Of course, their strategies and policies on how to deal with the American economy and its business are what's inherently different. And that's what will ultimately decide who wins the election.

The second reason why the “who builds businesses” debate is huge is the same as the first; it's a legitimate debate.

How often do we have distractions and petty arguments thrown around during political campaigns?

Where's his birth certificate? Where's his tax returns? Why's associating with this guy? Why's he doing business with that guy? These are distractions; specifically, distractions that keep us from getting down to business and talking about what really matters in this country. Both candidates are having a serious, legitimate conversation about a subject that impacts us all. Businesses.

It's refreshing to have this conversation going on instead of white noise surrounding hearsay and irrelevant attacks, because let's face it; those attacks won't get the country back on track.

As the upcoming election will ultimately come down to the economy, small businesses will remain in the spotlight. Let's hope the debate continues.

About the Author

Brent Barnhart

Brent Barnhart is a freelance content writer specializing in topics such as Internet marketing and content marketing for small businesses. His goal is to help business owners find their voices online and improve their content strategies. You can reach Brent or find out more at brentwrites.com.

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